NEWPORT NEWS The spinoff from Northrop Grumman started the beginning of a new era for America's largest military shipbuilder Friday.

Virginia now has a brand new Fortune 500 company.

Newport News shipbuilding has become a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.

'It's now one of the largest defense companies on the planet,' said CEO Mike Petters.

The company has 38,000 employees. 19,000 are located in Virginia.

For local workers, it's just a name change. But executives of the new company say the change will bring greater focus.

Being an independent company means they will be able to focus more on customers' needs and wants. In this case, the customer is the Navy.

'Our navy cares about our business' safety, quality, cost and schedule. We can drive those things in this business in a much more effective way as an independent than as Northrop Grumman. While Northrop Grumman is trying to focus on the Pentagon, we can now focus on an individual slice of the Pentagon,' said Petters.

He said the city also stands to benefit from the shipyard going independent.

'To have corporate headquarters in the city, we don't have to go through a committee. We can go straight to the company when they're doing things within the city. We're expecting even more as far as community involvement from the company,' said Newport News Mayor McKinley Price.

As for changing the signage and logos, well that's going to take place gradually. Repainting the cranes will take the longest. They'll have to come down and the company doesn't want to interfere with production.

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