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Newport News Shipbuilding: 'Favorable' response to buyout offers to more than 2,500 workers

In a 2016 file photo, a worker performs a magnetic particle inspection of a pad eye on the Virginia-class submarine Delaware at Newport News Shipbuilding.

CHRIS OXLEY/HUNTINGTON INGALLS

By HUGH LESSIG | Daily Press (Newport News, Va.) | Published: January 9, 2019

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Tribune News Service) — Newport News Shipbuilding has received “a favorable response” from buyout offers to more than 2,500 employees, although the company isn’t yet providing specifics, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The voluntary buyouts are intended to cut overhead costs and spur reorganization at the shipyard. The division of Huntington Ingalls Industries employs more than 23,000.

“The applications to participate in the program were in line with company projections, which will allow us to continue our focus on streamlining overhead costs,” Duane Bourne said in an email.

He declined to give a specific or approximate number of employees who responded.

The shipyard is the sole manufacturer of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers for the Navy and one of two yards that builds nuclear-powered submarines.

Company leaders are now reviewing the applications. Most employees who receive a buyout will work until March 1. “However, a small number may be extended to complete critical projects and turnover,” Bourne said.

The buyout offer excluded unionized employees, vice presidents, employees who report to the corporate office and employees who work at offsite locations.

Employees will be eligible for up to 26 weeks of severance, depending on time worked.

At times last year, the shipyard was hiring at the rate of 400 per month, aiming to attract a new generation of shipbuilders who are comfortable with increasingly high-tech construction processes.

The Navy’s push to expand its fleet to 355 ships is a positive long-term sign for the company.

More immediate good news came in late December when the Navy notified Congress it intends to execute a two-carrier purchase, something not done since the defense buildup during the Reagan administration.

That contract could be awarded by the end of January.

hlessig@dailypress.com

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