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Newport News Shipbuilding Pushes Full Speed Ahead

Newport News Shipbuilding has been "top of the news" of late, winning orders for five additional product carriers, unveiling its new plan to build ships twice as fast and maintaining its strong presence in the U.S. Navy market. The biggest story, however, is the still unconfirmed speculation that the yard is up for sale.

Rumors Run Rampant The consolidation of the U.S. defense industry and parent-company Tenneco's paring down have done little to squelch rumors that Newport News, the U.S.'s largest privately owned shipyard, is on the sales block. Rumored suitors include several prominent U.S. companies. At press time, however, the parent company had given no definitive word on a plan to sell the rejuvinated shipyard.

The Making Of A Commercial Success Newport News Shipbuilding won a contract to build five, 45,300-dwt Double Eagle product tankers for Hvide Van Ommeren Tankers of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The contract won approval for Title XI loan guarantees from the U.S. Maritime Administration, which will cover 87.5 percent of the project's approximate $240 million cost. It raises the numberof Double Eagles to be built by the yard to nine, including the four ships ordered previously by Eletson. According to Newport News, it was the availability of MarAd's long-term financing guarantes which cemented the contract.

The ships will measure 620 ft. (189 m) by 105 ft. (32 m), and will offer a service speed of 16 knots. They will be among the first newly-built, double-hulled tankers designed and built for service in the U.S. trade since the passage of OPA90. Materials for the ships will be ordered in the next few months, with construction slated to begin in 1997. All five ships will be delivered by the end of 1998.

"We are pleased to be building these ships for Hvide/Van Ommeren," said Ed Waryas, director of commercial marketing. "This order firmly establishes the Double Eagle as a recognized class of seriesbuilt product tankers.

Such series construction is critical to our winning future shipbuilding contracts." "Lets face it. For years, the U.S. shipbuilding industry has not been a ball of fire in the commercial market place. All along, people have doubted that we would actually be building these ships, but if you come down to the shipyard, you'll see construction is underway," Mr. Waryas said.

" Our strategic plan was to get subsequent orders for the series, and we have." The announcement of the new contracts comes on the heels of the yard announcing implementation of its major initiative aimed at cutting, by at least 50 percent, the time it takes to design and build a ship.

The Full Speed Ahead program will focus all of the yard's 18,000 employees' efforts on doubling the speed of their processes by redesigning and recreating them. Special emphasis will be placed on the five major processes between receipt of a contract and delivery of the ship: design; production planning; material sourcing; steel fabrication; and outfitting.

Newport News Shipbuilding President and CEO Bill Fricks kicked-off the process innovation prgram at a ceremony attended by 600 employees.

Expanding Roles Newport News also recently announced that Mr. Waryas would assume the additional responsibilities for management of its commercial ship repair business. The yard has repaired more than 60 commercial ships since its re-entry into the business in 1992.

Mr. Waryas joined the yard in 1993 as director of domestic marketing and sales. He came to Newport News from MAN B&W Diesel, Inc., where he was director of business development. Under his direction, NNS has built an impressive orderbook for its new Double Eagle product tanker design.

"Putting our ship repair m a r k e t i n g under Ed's direction indicates our confidence in his abilities, as well as our continuing emphasis on ship repair as a component of our diversification efforts," said Greg Cridlin, vice president, marketing.

"We have been focused on getting repeat business, such as from the cruise ship segment," Mr. Waryas said. "At the same time, we want to broaden the base, and target vessels calling on the U.S. East and Gulf coasts." Mr. Waryas succeeds Charles Jenkins, who was selected to head one of the newly-established process innovation teams, part of the Full Speed Ahead program.

Recent Navy Business While impressive gains have been made on the commercial side of business at Newport News, its strong ties to navy business are still very evident at the yard, and central to future success. The yard recently won a contract to perform overhaul work on the USS Monterey, a Ticonderoga Class guided missile cruiser outfitted with the Aegis combat system. The $12.5-million contract includes hull painting, dry docking, inspection of propeller, shafts, valves and tanks.

It will also include several upgrades to the combat systems. "We are very pleased to have won this award because it is the first Aegis-equipped ship we will have overhauled, and we hope to work on more ships of this type in the future," said Mike Shawcross, director, naval marketing at Newport News. "Also, this is another successful step in our efforts to diversify our business." The USS Monterey was built at Bath Iron Works and will arrive at NNS in June. It is scheduled to return to the fleet in March. The yard's reputation as a quality naval builder was enhanced by its early delivery of its 52nd nuclear-powered submarine, the attack submarine Greeneville (SSN 772), to the U.S. Navy. It was delivered one month early. The remaining submarine under contract, the Cheyenne (SSN 773), is due for delivery in the late summer. The Greeneville measures 360 ft. (110 m) long, is 33 ft. (10 m) in diameter and carries a weapons system including topedoes, Harpoon and Tomahawk missies and submarine-launched mobile mines.

Aside from the submarine and upgrade business, NNS currently has construction contracts for two Nimitz class aircraft carriers.

 
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