Despite the ongoing federal funding battle and government shutdown, the U.S. Navy announced its intent to block buy two Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers.
That could mean millions of dollars funneling into the Hampton Roads economy. The block buy is also expected to save taxpayers money.
In response to the announcement, Senator Tim Kaine released a statement saying, "This smart move will save taxpayer dollars and help ensure the shipyards can maintain a skilled workforce to get the job done. Newport News builds the finest carriers in the world, and I know they are ready to handle this increase in work as we make progress toward the Navy's goal of a 355-ship fleet."
Senator Mark Warner also released a statement in which he said, "This announcement is not only important for the men and women of the Newport News shipbuilding industry, it also makes a critical investment in our nation’s defense by ensuring the Navy has the capabilities needed to combat any adversary."
It's something that Hampton Roads leaders have been pushing for for a long time.
"So the taxpayers gets a break, that's number one," said Tidewater Community College Business Professor Peter Shaw. "Number two ,if you order two aircraft carriers to be constructed, then your highly skilled labor that you have has long term employment."
Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance Executive Director Craig Quigley, a retired Navy rear admiral, says it's a smart move.
"The American taxpayers will save money," he said. "The Navy gets a very efficient shipbuilding process. the builder is able to order components at a very competitive rate because those suppliers know they're doing two of them instead of one. And it's good for the work forces as well. So there is nothing but goodness about ordering two carriers at a time."
Huntington Ingalls Chief Executive Mike Petters has said multi-ship purchases are the best way to achieve cost savings.
Virginia 2nd District representative Scott Taylor agrees.
"If you buy Navy ships with a bulk buy, you have more volume, it just makes things cheaper, it just makes economical sense to do it in bulk," he said.
The Ford-class is the Navy's newest and most technologically advanced class of aircraft carrier. USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) cost $12.9 billion to construct, and was commissioned in 2017 Currently, the next carrier, the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) is under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding. It is about 84 percent structurally complete and 53 percent complete overall.