“Our focus on shipbuilding has produced tangible results for the navy and the economy in Hampton Roads,” said Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus. Secretary Mabus addressed a sold-out audience at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside as he gave the keynote speech at the most recent Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Leadership Series Event.
Mabus, who has held the position of Navy secretary longer than anyone since World War I focused his remarks on three areas: shipbuilding, energy, and people, and provided a retrospective look at the changes in the Navy since he took his position in 2009. One of the changes that most impacted the Hampton Roads business community was the increase in the number of ships under contract. Numbers rose from 41 between 2002 and 2009 to 86 during his tenure, creating 8,000 shipbuilding industry jobs and an acquisitions cost savings of $12.9 in the process. “Costs are going down and capabilities are going up,” said Mabus. While in Hampton Roads, Mabus paid a visit to Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, which saw the impact of the increase of shipbuilding contracts first hand, adding almost 20 thousand more man hours over the last seven years.
In addition to shipbuilding, Mabus spoke at length about his energy goals, one of which is ensuring that at least 50% of all Navy & Marine Corps energy, ashore and afloat, comes from alternative fuels by 2020. “Alternative energy is important to this chamber and the Navy and Marines are not only playing a role in the development of clean energy, we’re leading the way,” said Mabus. In fact, the goal of having 50% alternative energy ashore by 2020 set by President Obama in his 2012 State of the Union address was met last year, five years ahead of schedule. “We have to lead the transition to alternative fuels to remain on the cutting edge,” said Mabus.
Secretary Mabus concluded his keynote address by recounting the personnel policy changes made in order to “attract and keep the very best [sailors and marines] America has to offer.” These sweeping changes include the elimination of “Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell,” opening all Navy and Marine Corps jobs to women, increasing the Career Intermission Program to allow a 3-year leave for any reason without detriment to a service member’s career, and increasing paid maternity leave.
Bryan Stephens, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce presented Secretary Mabus with a coin and a book, thanking him for addressing the business community of Hampton Roads, which has long had a strong relationship with the Navy. “They are an integral part of the fiber of this region,” said Stephens, “and we will do everything we can to support your sailors and their family members as they sacrifice to protect our freedoms and safety worldwide.”
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