Newport News Shipbuilding Master Shipbuilders Dinner Remarks

Matt Mulherin, President Newport News Shipbuilding (as delivered)
Newport News Shipbuilding

Thank you. Good evening, everyone – shipbuilders, family members, friends, and most importantly, our Master Shipbuilders. I want to offer my sincere congratulations for the hard work, skill, commitment and strength that each of you have displayed during more than 40 years of incredible service to Newport News Shipbuilding. I’d also like to take a moment to thank each of the loved ones who are here with a Master Shipbuilder tonight. This moment would not be possible without your support. You are very much a part of our shipbuilding family, and we thank

Matt Mulherin Addresses Master Shipbuilders
Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin speaks to 832 Master Shipbuilders, men and women who have served with the company for 40 or more years. The 27th annual dinner was held April 21 at the Hampton Roads Convention Center. Photo by Chris Oxley

After 130 years in business, the shipyard is a company steeped in tradition and history. We spend a lot of time at these Master Shipbuilder dinners reflecting on our past – and what life was like way back when. Tonight, I want to put that into perspective – to not only talk about how
things used to be, but more importantly how far we have come.

In our 130 years, we’ve gone from wood to steel. From coal to diesel to nuclear-powered. And from drawings to digital. From a human standpoint, we’ve evolved from separate facilities for white and black employees. From an all-male workforce to one that includes women. And from a senior leadership team that has tended to look alike – and think alike – to a more diverse and inclusive team today.

I mention this tonight, because I believe the only way for our company to continue to grow and evolve, is for our shipyard culture to do the same. I need your help to make that happen. Sometimes, our younger employees – or even the younger family members in our lives – look at
those of us who have reached a certain level of maturity as being set in our ways, and not being as open to change or new ideas.

But tonight, we aren’t just celebrating longevity in your careers. We are also celebrating your ability to adapt, to change and to grow. In 40 plus years, you have seen more change – in our shipyard and indeed the world – than any other group of shipbuilders. I mean, did you ever think you’d see us allowing camera-enabled cell phones inside our gates!?! Yet, pretty soon, that will be the norm, and future employees will look back in disbelief that there was ever a time when these devices were not allowed.

Time marches on. Yet tonight gives us all an opportunity to reflect on how our shipyard careers began, and how we felt as new employees. I am asking you to think about this as you work with our younger generation of employees. Employees who don’t look or think like us. Employees who grew up with iPhones, Droids, Facebook, Snapchat, and other technologies foreign to us. Because in 40 years from now, they’ll be the ones sitting here. They are our future, and with your guidance, your inspiration, and your open minds to their new ways of thinking, they will continue the legacy you have created, and lead Newport News Shipbuilding into another century of greatness.

Now, to get nostalgic for just a moment and take us back to 1975, I want to quote lyrics from an Earth Wind and Fire song. And don’t worry – I’m not going to sing it. This sums up what our Master Shipbuilders mean to Newport News Shipbuilding:

“You're a shining star.
No matter who you are.
Shining bright to see.
What you could truly be.”

Thank you for being our shining stars. Would every Master Shipbuilder – all 832 of you – please stand for a very well deserved round of applause? Congratulations to all of you! And now, it is my pleasure to introduce what has become a highlight of this annual event. It’s a
video commemorating 1975 – the year our new Master Shipbuilders first walked through our gates. I want to also mention that we do not have any female master shipbuilders from the class of 1975, which is why none are featured in the video. But I am hopeful that will change with the
class of 1976. So without any further ado, let’s roll the video.

About HII

HII is a global, all-domain defense provider. HII’s mission is to deliver the world’s most powerful ships and all-domain solutions in service of the nation, creating the advantage for our customers to protect peace and freedom around the world. As the nation’s largest military shipbuilder, and with a more than 135-year history of advancing U.S. national security, HII delivers critical capabilities extending from ships to unmanned systems, cyber, ISR, AI/ML and synthetic training. Headquartered in Virginia, HII’s workforce is 43,000 strong. For more information, visit: