Rear Adm. Jon E. Rucker, Program Executive Officer, Attack Submarines, speaks to shipbuilders. Photo by Lexi Whitehead

All-Hands Meeting Sets Tone for Submarine Program

Published February 1, 2023

Newport News shipbuilders received a pep talk and a strong set of marching orders from a top Navy leader during an all-hands meeting in December.

Rear Adm. Jon E. Rucker, the Program Executive Officer, Attack Submarines, visited Newport News Shipbuilding to congratulate employees on what they’re doing right and lay out the challenges ahead.

“We have an opportunity,” Rucker said. “Every decision, every action, everything you think about, everything you do today, will directly affect the future of this country. I firmly believe that.”

Virginia-class submarines are prized by combatant commanders for the edge they give the U.S. over their adversaries. That’s a testament to the high-quality work done at NNS, but it also presents a challenge. Rucker said every organization involved in the program – including shipbuilders, the Navy, the federal government and suppliers – must build on their success and improve.

NNS builds Virginia-class submarines in a teaming arrangement with General Dynamics Electric Boat. NNS and Electric Boat “are the two best shipbuilders in the world. You are part of an elite team.”

He urged employees in the Virginia-Class Submarine Program to be ambassadors in the community, to talk about the importance of the program and how much they love their jobs. That can help recruit others to the shipyard.

Rucker also discussed the importance of submarine fleet maintenance to the Navy’s undersea mission.

It was important for shipbuilders to hear directly from Rucker about what they’re doing right as well as the challenges head, said Jason Ward, vice president of Virginia-Class Submarine Construction.

It’s easy to get focused on our day-to-day work efforts and fail to see how what each of us does every day fits into the bigger picture, Ward said. “We are responsible for fabricating, assembling and testing the most complex weapons system on the plant. Hearing that from the admiral was pretty motivating and important for the team to hear directly.”

Ward added: “The submarine enterprise is at an inflection point. We have more work in front of us then anytime over the last couple decades. Accelerating our recovery efforts to deliver the highest quality submarines to the Navy is our top priority.”

NNS employees can watch Adm. Rucker’s one-hour presentation in full on MyNNS. No charge is provided.