Petters says he has 'spoken directly' with Navy officials about Ford-class carrier

By Marjorie Censer / November 7, 2019 at 11:13 AM

The chief executive of Huntington Ingalls Industries said today the company is working closely with the Navy on the aircraft carrier Gerald Ford (CVN-78), which has come under fire from Congress and top Navy officials in recent weeks.

Mike Petters told analysts during a call this morning that he has "spoken directly" with Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and the service's top procurement official, Hondo Geurts, about the ship.

The three "are aligned on the plan to get the ship ready for deployment as soon as possible," he said.

Petters told analysts the lead ship of a program marks a significant technological jump.

"A lead ship is not . . . an incremental change in technology; it's usually three or four generations of change in technology," he said.

Petters said the company has to be "agile and flexible" in how it makes improvements or fixes and "balance that with the need for the Navy to operate the ship."

"So that's the way we have proceeded with the whole range of technologies that we have out there," he added.

Petters said some improvements will be made under existing contracts, some will be covered under a warranty and others will become "new scope."

He also said the company is "at the point now where we really need to go to contract" on Block V of the Virginia-class submarine program.

"I think we're on track for that, and we're heading to get to a contract by the end of the year," he added.

Meanwhile, HII said today sales in its most recent quarter totaled $2.2 billion, up almost 7% from the same three-month period a year earlier.

The contractor was buoyed by sales growth in its Newport News Shipbuilding and technical solutions businesses. The technical solutions unit reported a 42% sales increase in the quarter.

HII recorded quarterly profit of $154 million, down 33% from the prior year.