Our Reputation Is On the Line

[Post by Chuck Krugh, August 22, 2022]

As a leader, I hate reading or hearing about my team in a negative light. I especially don’t like to see it in the press. But last weekend, a podcast that analyzes the shipbuilding industry discussed the state of naval shipbuilding and took a look at our competitors along the Gulf Coast.

Here’s what they said about us and them after that visit:

“It is not unreasonable to assume that the Mississippi shipyard can build twice as many destroyers as its competitor in Maine.”

This stark assessment comes as the Navy is asking shipbuilders to bid on the contracts for the next series of Flight III destroyers.

This should be no surprise as we are late to contract commitment, but it should be a wake-up call.  Although we have been telling the Navy we can do this, we haven’t demonstrated it yet.

Our actions need to speak louder than our words.

If the Navy takes the view that our competitors can build twice as many ships as we can, we won’t be awarded as many ships in the next contract. But we need the work. Next year we cut the first steel for DDG 136 and DDG 138, the last two ships in our backlog.

The podcast said that our competitors were: “Ready to build. . . Yards that were really modernizing and thinking about how to absolutely get the highest level of efficiency out of their production.”

The podcast even hinted that our capacity limits are hurting the country’s ability to fight China.

Our country needs our ships. I do not want our team here to be singled out for not doing enough to defend our nation.

We need to earn the right to build ships for the Navy.  It’s not a given that ships will always come.  BIW didn’t get the Bath Built is Best Built reputation by resting on the accomplishments of others or on our legacy. The shipyard earned it.

If we want to protect that reputation—if we want that to be our reputation going forward—we have to keep earning it.  We earn it by working and demonstrating our ability through the ships we build.  When we SAFELY build the highest QUALITY ship on SCHEDULE, our SHIP will speak volumes about who we are!

President, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works

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