Lloyd Joyner Sr. began his shipyard career in March 1957.

Shipbuilder’s 65-Year NNS Career Comes to Close

Published March 29, 2022

Master Shipbuilder Lloyd Joyner Sr. came to Newport News Shipbuilding in 1957 with hopes to attend The Apprentice School. He had been a running back at Smithfield High School – scoring three touchdowns in the state championship game – and wanted to extend his football career as an apprentice.

But there was one problem. “Back then, apprentices couldn’t be married. I was engaged and married Betty on Sept. 21, 1957,” Joyner said.

While The Apprentice School didn’t work out, he built a satisfying career at NNS that has spanned generations and enabled Joyner and his wife to raise three children – son, Dee, and daughters, Kim and Karen. The Joyners also have two grandsons, Matthew and Brian, and two great-grandchildren.

This month marks Joyner’s 65th anniversary as a shipbuilder and the end of an era. He is retiring at the end of the month.

“Over the years and decades, I have seen a lot of changes – not only in the art of shipbuilding – but in this great company,” he said. “The shipyard is the place to be for anyone who is looking for a future and willing to put out the effort and apply themselves.”

Joyner started at NNS in the Mold Loft, using full-sized paper, wooden and box molds. He also worked in the Mold Loft Drawing Room, and worked to help develop ships’ hull body lines. This was during the era in which NNS built both Enterprise (CVN 65) and John F. Kennedy (CV 67). In 1997, Joyner was promoted to Operations supervisor in X10, overseeing carrier units to be erected on ships.

Later, David Eberwine asked Joyner to start working on carrier overhauls for SFA Shops exclusively. He became the go-to person, focusing on the upfront ordering of smart start bulk material, man hours, schedules, durations and design build teams with Engineering, Production Control, Mold Loft, the ship and the program office.

More than six decades into his career at NNS, Joyner still plays an important role in innovation at the shipyard.

When planning started for the refueling and complex overhaul of USS George Washington (CVN 73), Joyner said the team investigated building the radar tower in an upper and lower section and joining the two sections before being sent to the ship to be erected in one piece.

“This had never been done before, and it was a big savings,” he said.

The team carried the new radar tower process into the refueling and complex overhaul of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), and also looked at a similar process for the main mast, which also represents a significant savings.

Many of Joyner’s relatives also found a place at NNS. That includes his son; brothers, Durial Joyner and Lloyd Joyner; a sister, Evelyn Batten; a nephew, Jacob Camper; a niece, Brooke McHorney; and a brother-in-law, Dennis Camper. Joyner’s daughters and one of his grandsons were summer interns at NNS.

Although his Apprentice School football career didn’t pan out, Joyner stayed active in sports, playing in slow-pitch softball tournaments – being named MVP several times and pitching three no hitters. He also was asked to play on a shipyard-sponsored team in an industrial tournament. The NNS team won, and Joyner was named MVP.

He refereed high school basketball and served as an assistant football coach at Smithfield High School. Joyner also was athletic director for the Smithfield Recreation Association and was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame. He also received the Distinguished Service Award from the Smithfield Jaycees.

Joyner and his wife started showing Arabian horses in halter and performance in 1986, winning several championships. They also enjoy horse racing, having attended the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness Stakes. “In May, after I retire, we are going to the Kentucky Derby, completing our own ‘Triple Crown’ of horse racing,” he said.

As he looks back over the past 65 years, Joyner said he has “no regrets” about his shipyard career.

“I have worked for and with a lot of good shipbuilders too numerous to mention,” he said. “I will miss the daily interface with my co-worker friends.”