More than half a century ago, a sailor named Dave Williams boarded Enterprise (CVN 65), the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, as a member of the original crew.

He was onboard when the ship responded to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Later, Williams left the Navy and came to work at Newport News Shipbuilding. But he maintained a relationship with his beloved ship. He worked on CVN 65 various times as shipbuilder, sometimes when it was docked in Norfolk, other times flying across the country or halfway around the world to give it needed attention.

Today, as a new Enterprise (CVN 80) comes to life at NNS, the Williams family is as involved as ever.

Dave’s son, Mike “Chilly” Williams (X36), is among thousands of shipbuilders working on the third Gerald R. Ford-class carrier. Given his family ties, this is much more than a job.

“It’s kind of like a full circle,” said Williams, a lead crane rigger. “That’s how my dad’s career started. He finished up his career at NNS on CVN 65. I’ve already been here 33 years, and toward the end of my career, I’ll be on CVN 80.”

Mike Williams was familiar with Enterprise lore at an early age. His father had a nautical-themed room and photos of CVN 65 on the wall.

“The Enterprise was always an important part of his life, so it was an important part of our lives because of that,” he said.

Dave Williams put aside active-duty service in the Navy to raise his family, but his love for the Navy never waned. In the late 1970s, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve and later retired as a chief petty officer.

When he did his two weeks of active duty at Naval Station Norfolk close to where CVN 65 was docked, while his crew was working on the ship, they got to see their boss in his sailor whites. It earned him the nickname “Sailor Bob.”

Mike Williams came to the shipyard in 1989 and dad, an X11 supervisor, didn’t retire until 2010. He has since passed away, but they managed to work together on the waterfront at times, including when CVN 65 returned to NNS at various times.

Because Mike Williams works in new carrier construction, CVN 80 is now part of his responsibility. “I’m just in the right place,” he said.

You can read more stories like this in NNS Currents

NEWPORT NEWS, Va., May 27, 2022 — With HII-built aircraft carriers featured prominently in the movie release of “Top Gun: Maverick,” the nation’s largest shipbuilder recognized the release as an opportunity to celebrate its workforce, their contribution to national security and the company’s growing technologies business. In Virginia, where HII is the state’s largest industrial employer, the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division invited shipbuilders to get an early screening of the movie.

“This team builds the most powerful and survivable ships in the world in support of national security,” said Danyelle Saunders, who leads the Newport News Shipbuilding Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion Office. “We’re excited that the movie shines a light on their hard work, and showcases how these incredibly capable platforms function on behalf of the country.”

A total of 800 Newport News Shipbuilding shipbuilders across shifts were invited to get an early-screening of the movie after or before work on Wednesday, May 25, and Thursday, May 26, before “Top Gun: Maverick” officially hit theaters. Additionally, 1,200 vouchers have been provided for additional shipbuilders to see the movie.

Top+gun+theater Hero

Shipbuilders from HII's Newport News Shipbuilding division enjoy an early screening of the movie “Top Gun: Maverick,” as HII celebrates its workforce, their contribution to national security and the company’s growing technologies business.

“It’s great the company would do this, especially a pre-showing,” said Newport News Shipbuilding Engineering Technician Will Wiley, who attended the Thursday screening. “We play a huge role in building carriers, so it’s great to see something we were part of on the big screen.”

DeWolfe “Chip” Miller, corporate vice president of customer affairs for HII, contributed to the production of “Top Gun: Maverick” during his career in the Navy as the commander of Naval Air Forces.

“The aircraft carriers we build are the most technologically advanced in the world,” Miller said. “We deliver them to the U.S. Navy who man, train and equip sailors who breathe life into these magnificent machines and take them to sea. Together, we are an unstoppable team: shipbuilders and sailors. Our country needs that team now more than ever.”

As America recognizes the 100-year legacy of aircraft carriers this year, all U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carriers operating in the Navy fleet today were built at Newport News Shipbuilding, including USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) seen in “Top Gun: Maverick.”

HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding and Mission Technologies divisions also initiated similar efforts to connect employees with the company’s mission through opportunities to receive tickets to see the movie while it is in theaters.

HII is an all-domain defense and technologies partner, recognized worldwide as America’s largest shipbuilder. With a 135-year history of trusted partnerships in advancing U.S. national security, HII delivers critical capabilities ranging from the most powerful and survivable naval ships ever built, to unmanned systems, ISR and AI/ML analytics. HII leads the industry in mission-driven solutions that support and enable an all-domain force. Headquartered in Virginia, HII’s skilled workforce is 44,000 strong. For more information please visit:

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Todd Corillo
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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Nov. 9, 2013) – Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (NYSE: HII) Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division today christened Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), the first ship of the next-generation class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

 “There is perhaps no more visible or powerful representation of America’s military strength than the hull that towers above us,” said U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who served as keynote speaker. “No other nation makes carriers like America makes them, and this will be the most powerful American carrier ever to sail. Yet for every time that this ship will instill doubts in the minds of our adversaries, it will many more times give hope to our friends and to the people of the world. It will be welcome support in times of crisis, and it will also be comfort in times of disaster and grief. So it is truly fitting that it will bear the name Gerald R. Ford.”

The first-in-class ship features a new nuclear power plant, a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults, improved weapons movement, an enhanced flight deck capable of increased aircraft sortie rates, and growth margin for future technologies and reduced manning.

Before a standing-room-only crowd of thousands, Susan Ford Bales, the ship’s sponsor and daughter of President Ford, smashed a bottle of American sparkling wine across the bow to christen the ship. During her remarks, she addressed the shipbuilders, reflecting on the relationships she has built with them during construction of her father’s namesake ship.

“This shipyard’s motto, ‘Always Good Ships,’ is not just a phrase; it is a way of life here for over a century,” Bales said. “There is nothing—absolutely nothing—that can describe how proud I am to be your fellow shipbuilder. Your integrity and patriotic commitments to excellence are without equal. Shipbuilders of Newport News—you are a national treasure.”

Since November 2006, more than 5,000 shipbuilders have helped to construct Ford, and suppliers from 46 states across the country have contributed specialized parts, skilled services and support to aircraft carrier production. In the weeks following the christening, the carrier will be launched into the James River and moved to a pier for outfitting and testing. The ship is scheduled for delivery to the U.S. Navy in 2016.

“When USS Gerald R. Ford joins the Navy’s fleet in 2016, she will reign as America’s queen of the seas for 50 years,” said NNS President Matt Mulherin. “She will stand as a symbol of sovereign U.S. territory wherever she sails. She will represent her namesake—a man who embodied integrity, honor and courage. And she will forever carry with her the spirit of her sponsor, the strength of her crew and the heart of her shipbuilders.”

Follow @HIIndustries on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #FordCVN78.

About Huntington Ingalls Industries

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) designs, builds and maintains nuclear and non-nuclear ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard and provides after-market services for military ships around the globe. For more than a century, HII has built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder at its Newport News Shipbuilding and Ingalls Shipbuilding divisions. Employing more than 37,000 in Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana and California, HII also provides a wide variety of products and services to the commercial energy industry and other government customers, including the Department of Energy. For more information, visit:

NEWPORT NEWS, Va., June 28, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) announced today that the company has received a $745 million cost-plus-incentive fee contract for the inactivation of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). The work will be done at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division.

The ship was towed from Naval Station Norfolk to NNS on June 20 under the existing planning contract. NNS will defuel the ship’s eight reactors and prepare Enterprise for its eventual transit to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility. The work is scheduled to complete in August 2016. More than 1,000 employees will support her inactivation.

“Although Newport News Shipbuilding has defueled and refueled many ships, including Enterprise, this is the first inactivation of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier,” said Chris Miner, NNS’ vice president, in-service aircraft carrier programs. “Our shipbuilders know Enterprise well and have enjoyed working on her over her decades of service. We are extremely proud of her great legacy, so it is with heavy hearts that we will work to retire this one-of-a-kind ship.”

Built by Newport News shipbuilders and launched in September 1960, Enterprise served a record 51 consecutive years. The ship was the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the only one in her class. Enterprise aided in the Cuban Missile Crisis and operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn, as well as naval maritime security operations.

Statements in this release, other than statements of historical fact, constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed in these statements. Factors that may cause such differences include: changes in government and customer priorities and requirements (including government budgetary constraints, shifts in defense spending, and changes in customer short-range and long-range plans); our ability to obtain new contracts, estimate our costs and perform effectively; risks related to our spin-off from Northrop Grumman (including our increased costs and leverage); our ability to realize the expected benefits from consolidation of our Gulf Coast facilities; natural disasters; adverse economic conditions in the United States and globally; and other risk factors discussed in our filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. There may be other risks and uncertainties that we are unable to predict at this time or that we currently do not expect to have a material adverse effect on our business, and we undertake no obligations to update any forward-looking statements.

About Huntington Ingalls


Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) designs, builds and maintains nuclear and non-nuclear ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard and provides after-market services for military ships around the globe. For more than a century, HII has built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder at its Newport News Shipbuilding and Ingalls Shipbuilding divisions. Employing about 37,000 in Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana and California, HII also provides a wide variety of products and services to the commercial energy industry and other government customers. For more information, visit:

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