Large US military shipbuilder establishes a Canberra office


Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has already opened its Canberra office, with experienced international executive Jeff McCray, vice-president business development, HII Australia, and other staff now working from there.


At Newport News, Virginia, HII is the US’s sole designer, builder and refueler of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and is currently building Virginia Class nuclear submarines. At Ingalls Shipyard in Mississippi they are the builder-of-record for 35 DDG51 Aegis destroyers and numerous LPD and LHA amphibious ships. In addition they sustain these US Navy ships around the world.


Interviewing Jeff McCray, APDR asked, “Why have HII chosen to open an office in Canberra? Are they planning to acquire a shipyard here, given the large naval ship construction program about to start?”


He said “Not at this stage. We have two major shipyards that build the vast majority of the US Navy’s ships, both are in the continental US. The role we see ourselves playing is as an advisor on shipyard design and work flow management in addition to workforce development.  In terms of overseas fleet sustainment of US Navy vessels, we have adopted an ‘asset light’ model where we assemble bespoke flyaway teams with the requisite skills and gear to perform specific maintenance and repair activities on any platform anywhere, including the Western Pacific. However, regionally based solutions need to be explored when those repairs are more extensive.  Australia could potentially play a key role in that.”


When asked if one of the Canberra office’s roles is to identify capabilities within Australian industry which can both help Australian shipbuilding and also USN sustainment where appropriate, Jeff McCray replied “We are opening the Canberra office to develop high level relationships with DOD (Department of Defence), with the RAN, and also with industry to understand what their capabilities are today and what they need to be to support a continuous shipbuilding program.”


APDR asked further “Our Government is keen for local companies to have an opportunity to join your global supply chain. Could they?”


Jeff McCray responded “One of HII’s areas of expertise is in vendor selection and supply chain management. Our US shipbuilding often requires a high degree of US content, but we do take advantage of specialist suppliers to help our objectives of safety, quality, cost and schedule wherever we can. For some specialist equipment the US Navy is an honest broker and deals are done government to government. We integrate those systems into the ships we build.”

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