Connecting to the Mission

Published June 28, 2022

As Enterprise (CVN 80) begins to take shape in Dry Dock 12 at Newport News Shipbuilding, program leaders want to ensure shipbuilders connect to the aircraft carrier’s mission and purpose – especially in this early stage of its life.

Brian Fields, vice president of Enterprise (CVN 80) and Doris Miller (CVN 81) Aircraft Carrier Programs, said it was a particularly important message since there are so many new shipbuilders working on the program. That’s why the CVN 80 program held engagement events last week for the entire team on all three shifts.

“We want to make sure everyone understands that the purpose of what they’re doing is a lot bigger than the job in front of them every day,” Fields said. “At this stage of construction, a ship’s force crew has not yet been assigned and you may not see these pieces of steel as a complete vessel. But, eventually they will turn into a massive, complex aircraft carrier that this country relies on to protect our freedoms and to protect the sailors who are on the front lines for us.”

To drive the point home, guest speakers addressed the CVN 80 team. Capt. Cassidy Norman, commanding officer of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), spoke during the first shift event. Mark Colombo (K01), a retired Navy pilot, spoke during the event for second- and third-shift employees.

Norman, who has deployed overseas numerous times on aircraft carriers – including Enterprise (CVN 65), shared his experiences as a pilot flying over Iraq and Afghanistan. He thanked shipbuilders for doing “a fantastic job” building the nation’s carriers.

“When you deploy on an aircraft carrier, it is a city. It’s a living city with an airport on top. But more than that, it is our home. It is where we live. It’s where we go back to feel safe when we conduct combat missions,” Norman said. “Thank you to all of you for what you’re doing on behalf of our Navy and on behalf of sailors in the future who are going to sail on CVN 80.”

He noted aircraft carriers are vital in war and also in times of peace to promote relationships with allies and deliver humanitarian aid.

Howard Watford (X31) said he believes hearing from Norman and Fields helps to inspire shipbuilders to work even harder. “It was nice to hear them say they appreciate the job we’re doing,” Watford said.

Fields plans to continue these events in the future. Once the Navy assigns a crew to Enterprise, he will look to those sailors to help share the “mission and purpose” message with shipbuilders.