Photo by Ashley Cowan

NNS Celebrates Keel Laying for Enterprise (CVN 80)

Published August 30, 2022

Newport News Shipbuilding celebrated the ceremonial keel laying of aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN 80) Saturday, Aug. 27.

U.S. Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky are the ship’s sponsors. Ledecky attended in person, while Biles participated via video, as the pair marked the important construction milestone.

During the ceremony, welders Ephony King and Jonathan Rishor welded Biles’ and Ledecky’s initials onto steel plates that will be permanently affixed to the ship, signifying the sponsors’ enduring relationship with the shipbuilders and crew.

Charles Echols Jr., manager of Production Planning and Scheduling, sang the national anthem during the ceremony. Gene VanZandt, manager of Design Engineering, gave the invocation. Mike Williams, lead rigger, and Charlie Holloway, crane operator, led the ceremonial keel lift of a CVN 80 unit into the dry dock.

NNS President Jennifer Boykin spoke highly of the skilled shipbuilders constructing Enterprise, highlighting their commitment to the Navy and the nation as the only shipyard capable of building nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

“These hardworking women and men take 100,000 tons of steel and technology and make it not only float, but serve as home, workplace, and shield for our Navy’s sailors,” Boykin told the crowd. “Shipbuilding takes discipline, precision, and an unrelenting drive for excellence, which we can never let falter because our sailors and their families depend on us.”

Boykin also recognized all the veterans in attendance from previous U.S. Navy ships that have been named Enterprise, including CV 6 and CVN 65, both built at NNS. CVN 80 will be the ninth U.S. Navy vessel to carry on the name Enterprise. The most recent, CVN 65, was the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in history. Already, 20,000 pounds of steel from CVN 65 have been incorporated into modules for CVN 80. When fully constructed, more than 35,000 pounds of steel from CVN 65 will live on in CVN 80, ensuring the Enterprise legacy continues.

The third Ford-class carrier, CVN 80 is also the first of a two-carrier block buy for the Navy, with work also underway at NNS on the second, Doris Miller (CVN 81). Enterprise is the first aircraft carrier not only designed digitally, but also being built digitally using visual work instructions on laptops and tablets rather than paper drawings.

A video of the ceremony and additional information about CVN 80 is available at