NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) -- A possible much needed shot in the arm for Hampton Roads' largest private employer.
Newport News Shipbuilding would benefit if Virginia's two U.S. senators succeed in protecting funding for the Navy's aircraft carrier construction program.
While work continues on the USS Ford, Newport News Shipbuilding is already thinking ahead to two carriers after that, CVN-80, the Enterprise, which is due in 2025.
If the Pentagon budget is funded temporarily through a Continuing Resolution, as now seems likely-- the advance procurement money for the Enterprise will continue at Fiscal Year 2016 levels – delaying shipbuilding, jeopardizing national security and threatening jobs in Hampton Roads.
Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are now asking the Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to protect funding for the Carrier Replacement Program during the Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations process.
It's a difference of about a half billion dollars.
"It would under fund and delay the new aircraft carrier enterprise," said Tidewater Community College Business Management and Administration professor Peter Shaw. "When you delay the construction of an aircraft carrier, you are number one, adding to the cost of construction. And the deferred cost can be quite expensive."
Newport News Shipbuilding laid off more than 1,200 workers in September, 2015, and another 738 in February, but, recalled 285 employees in August.
TCC's Shaw says the carrier funding levels that Kaine and Warner are pushing for would provide much needed financial certainty for Newport News Shipbuilding.
"Yeah, if Senators Kaine and Warner are successful, again, it does not disrupt your labor pool that's necessary to build and aircraft carrier," he said. "So that's good news in that we keep the people there employed. Remember we're needing skilled laborers to build these aircraft carriers. So we don't want to lose them, we want to keep them working, keep them employed. So yes, this would be very good news."
Christie Miller, Manager of Media Relations Newport News Shipbuilding Communications, agreed.
“Impacts to HII will depend on the length of any extension for new-start programs," she said, in an e-mail to 13News Now." We greatly appreciate the senators’ support and their understanding of the efficiencies garnered from a steady work flow through our shipyards, and how predictable work enables us to build aircraft carriers in the most efficient manner for the Navy and our nation.”