Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker visited commands, installations, and industrial construction and maintenance locations as part of a multi-state trip across the East Coast.
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker wrapped up a multi-state trip across the East Coast April 7 where he visited industrial construction and maintenance locations to view current work, tour facilities and discuss industrial base economic wellness and workforce health.
The secretary’s East Coast trip included visits to institutions in the Northeast region, reaffirming partnerships with long-standing contributors to the development of the maritime services, as well as the education and development of future naval leaders. He also visited private and public shipyards, ships and commands in the Norfolk and New England-areas, and Marine Corps commands in Virginia and South Carolina, including Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
“I am extremely impressed with the work our Sailors and Marines are doing across the Fleet in support of our maritime strategy,” said Harker. “They are working alongside our defense industry partners to improve the effectiveness of the force as we modernize to sustain our long-term advantage at sea.”
Harker added that his visit to Parris Island gave him an opportunity to observe recruit training and interact with recruits and permanent personnel aboard the installation. The visits to U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Marine Forces Command, and aboard the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) in Norfolk, offered opportunities to meet with Sailors and Marines both ashore and afloat.
While visiting commands in the Northeast region, Secretary Harker visited Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, where he engaged in discussions with senior leaders about submarine fleet readiness. He also toured and met with cadets from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and engaged in discussions with leadership about the Tri-Service Maritime, and Arctic Strategies underscoring the importance of the integrated Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard roles in the maritime domain.
The Secretary also toured Surface Warfare Officers School Command on board Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, where he was briefed on various facilities and programs. Additional stops on the trip included the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Naval War College, and Navy Officer Candidate School.
Harker made a concerted effort to visit both public and private shipyards to see firsthand the processes and the technology, and talk to the workers on the frontline of shipbuilding for both surface ships and submarines.
While in the Norfolk-area March 14-17, Secretary Harker toured Norfolk Naval Shipyard where he met with senior leaders and observed progress as part of the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP), a 20-year, $21 billion undertaking for refurbishing the nation’s four public shipyards with modernized equipment, improved workflow and upgraded dry docks and facilities. He then visited the waterfront to receive updates on the shipyard’s availabilities.
Secretary Harker also visited Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) in Kittery, Maine, where he received a tour and update from PNSY leadership on the status of ongoing construction projects, and SIOP efforts. He also received an update on the facility’s efforts to protect workers from the spread of COVID-19.
“Over these past couple months, I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to visit several of our public and private shipyards and I am impressed and inspired by the work that I have seen conducted at each of these locations,” said Harker. “Shipyard workers are valuable members of our shipbuilding community and have built great ships for our Navy. We continue to invest in our naval shipyard workforce and supporting infrastructure to ensure we can continue to get our ships in and out on time, and it is critical that we’ve got the industrial base to support that mission.”
The Secretary’s private shipyard tour included stops at Austal USA shipyard, in Mobile, Alabama; and Huntington Ingalls shipyards in both Newport News, Virginia, and Pascagoula, Mississippi. He also visited General Dynamics Electric Boat’s facilities at Quonset Point in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, as well as in nearby Groton, Connecticut.
During his visit to Bath Irons Works shipyard in Bath, Maine, Harker attended the keel-laying ceremony for the future guided-missile destroyer USS Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG 124). Barnum, a Vietnam Veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, and his wife participated in the ceremony marking the start of the ship’s construction.
Harker concluded his trip to New England with a visit to Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin company and the manufacturers of the Marine Corps’ CH-53K heavy lift helicopter, in Stratford, Connecticut.