How Warships Are Built for the U.S. Navy

How Warships Are Built for the U.S. Navy


Every company, no matter what you do, has a formal culture and an informal culture. Well who owns that culture? Who drives that culture? Who passes on that culture? Well, that’s your workforce and your employees that have been there the longest. Huntington Ingalls Industries is a company that primarily builds warships for the U.S. Navy. We’re an interesting company in that when we hire you we really want you to be with us for 40 years. We have currently in the corporation 1,200 master shipbuilders. That’s 1,200 people that have reached at least 40 years of continuous service. [JEFF HASTY] I’m a pipe welder.>>[ELLIS PATTERSON] I’m a pipe welder apprentice. I’ve been here just over three years. He actually — he knew my grandma when she worked out here. If I walk by and I see him having a problem, I try to help him out. And if he’s having a problem, he’ll come down and get with me and ask for advice. I don’t think the age difference really matters. He may be faster than me in certain situations because he’s been there before. There’s new technology now that we didn’t have when I was learning, so some of the things that we do today I could benefit from his youth because he understands computers and stuff like that a lot better than I do. You are very consciously aware on day one if you are a new kid walking in the shipyard that you’ve got to be careful or this could be a very unsafe place to be. So the older workers immediately start looking out for them. They just do. It’s just a part of their DNA. Why? Because somebody was looking out for them. [ROBERT ALLEN] I see a kid doing something wrong, tell him to do it another way. But ain’t nothing better in the world than getting some kid who wants to learn something. [TIM BAILEY] The learning curve, as far as I’m concerned, just keeps going on. If you want to keep building ships, we’re going to have to pass on the ability to the next people to keep up the job that we’ve been doing for years. Diversity takes on lots of forms — diversity in age, diversity in race, diversity in gender. You need all of that to be sitting around your table in order to be successful. [ERNIE ALAMIA] Whenever I first hired on out here, I didn’t work with anybody that was under 50 years old. That’s where I learned all my training from. If it wasn’t for the older generation, then I wouldn’t know what I know today. [LINDA TATE] I’m very proud that I have a young foreman. That mean he can move up and keep the ship flowing. We are going to what I’ll call a digital shipyard. That’s basically taking drawings away from paper to an iPad. You have an older generation that is translating the art of shipbuilding, and you have the younger generation that’s translating the technology to the older generation. And so it is a common language that they’re able to go back and forth on. It’s fascinating. We thought it was going to be a bigger struggle. It turned out to be a very seamless, very natural progression. [SOPHIA HARDY] We work hand in hand with each other. And I taught them some things about quality, and they taught me some things about how fast they can do it by using the technology. I learn stuff from these kids, too. We all help each other in a lot of ways. I love older people. I always have. Things that’s been passed down to them, I want to get them passed down to me. It really is about making sure that you have the very best ideas and that you have a culture where those ideas can flourish and they don’t get blocked because you’re the junior person in the room. They don’t get blocked because you’re the senior person in the room. They actually sprout because it’s the best idea on the table.

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