Last month, ACG National Capital presented Corporate Growth Awards to the region’s most transformational deals, top executives, and fastest-growing companies. These award winners – and the incredible group of finalists they were selected from – are shining examples of why the National Capital Region remains one of the fastest growing in the country, and one of the best places to do business.
The finalists for the Corporate Growth Awards were illustrative of the diverse business community in the National Capital Region – with companies representing industries as varied as healthcare, government contracting, consulting, technology, and aerospace. And we’ll be interviewing many of these exciting finalists for exclusive interviews over the coming weeks.
This week’s company that we’re profiling was the winner of the Corporate Growth Award for Deal Team of the Year (Public Company), and a member of an industry that our region is most known for – the government and defense contracting industry.
Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. is one of the Navy’s largest and most trusted shipbuilding partners. But it’s more than an industrial company that builds naval vessels for the Department of Defense. The company is seemingly transforming into a technology juggernaut through a number of strategic acquisitions and smart investments to help it keep pace with the tremendous transformation in manufacturing, and changes to how the military fights its adversaries.
To learn more about the acquisitions that made Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) a Corporate Growth Award winner, and that have brought exciting new technologies and capabilities into the company, we sat down with Chip Wasson, the company’s Vice President of Corporate Development. Here is what he had to say:
Corporate Growth, Capital Style (CGCS): Can you tell our readers a bit about Huntington Ingalls Industries? What different services and solutions does the company offer and which markets does it service?
Chip Wasson: Huntington Ingalls Industries is America’s largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of professional services to partners in government and industry. For more than a century, HII’s Newport News and Ingalls shipbuilding divisions in Virginia and Mississippi have built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder.
HII’s Technical Solutions division supports national security missions around the globe with unmanned systems, defense and federal solutions, and nuclear and environmental services. Headquartered in Newport News, Virginia, HII employs about 44,000 people operating both domestically and internationally.
CGCS: Huntington Ingalls Industries has made a number of interesting acquisitions over the course of the past few years, including the very recent acquisition of Alion Science and Technology. What does the acquisition of Alion bring to the company? Why was it a good fit and addition to HII?
Chip Wasson: Alion’s business aligns closely with HII’s Technical Solutions division. The combination of Alion and Technical Solutions represents a significant value creation opportunity that enhances our capabilities, customer access and overall scale in the discrete, high-growth national security markets that we have strategically targeted as focus areas.
The experienced Alion team and the highly complementary nature of the solutions and products they provide are consistent with HII’s strategic vision for its Technical Solutions division – to provide technology-enabled solutions in support of evolving national security customer.
“HII has a strong base in small, medium and large unmanned underwater vehicle design and development.” – Chip Wasson
Combining Alion with TSD is expected to create a $2.6B plus business with important capabilities serving key customers. The transaction will enhance HII’s capabilities and scale in key growth areas, including C5ISR, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and modeling, simulation and training.
CGCS: Alion isn’t the only recent HII acquisition. The company has also made a number of strategic investments to acquire companies in the unmanned vehicle marketplace. What opportunities does HII see in unmanned maritime vehicles? What market is there for these solutions?
Chip Wasson: The unmanned systems market continues to grow at a rapid pace and across defense domains, with strong development in the naval and maritime markets. The U.S. Navy has clearly articulated its strategy to shift to a more distributed fleet architecture which will include a significant number of unmanned systems.
“The industry signal is that unmanned systems are the future, and the U.S. Navy has expressed their commitment to increasing unmanned systems across their forces.” – Chip Wasson
HII has a strong base in small, medium and large unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) design and development. We are also partnered with Boeing for the U.S. Navy’s Orca XLUUV program. With the ability to offer scalable solutions across the full range of UUVs, we plan to continue to grow and maintain our leadership in this sector.
The industry signal is that unmanned systems are the future, and the U.S. Navy has expressed their commitment to increasing unmanned systems across their forces.
CGCS: Two recent acquisitions, in particular, seem to bolster HII’s capabilities in autonomous and unmanned maritime vehicle development – Hydroid and the autonomy business of Spatial Integrated Systems Inc. What about these two companies made them a good fit for HII? What did they both bring to the table that will benefit the company today and into the future?
Chip Wasson: Hydroid’s advanced capabilities and reputation for excellence in autonomous and unmanned maritime systems provided the perfect complement to our existing unmanned operations, including Proteus in Panama City and our partnership with Boeing to produce the Orca XLUUV. The addition of Hydroid to the HII family demonstrates the company’s long-term commitment to provide solutions to the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and our national security customers and allies globally.
Acquiring the autonomy business of Spatial Integrated Systems Inc. (SIS) added significant breadth to our unmanned systems solutions. SIS’s solutions are actively in use throughout the Department of Defense, coordinating and controlling multiple collaborative unmanned vehicles in the execution of mission applications including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, harbor patrol, high value unit escort missions, payload delivery, mine clearance, and transporting supplies.
“With U.S. Navy’s increasing demand for UUVs and USVs, HII is committed to investing in and expanding our unmanned systems capabilities.” – Chip Wasson
SIS’s intelligent, goal-oriented unmanned surface vehicle (USV) solutions follow Unmanned Maritime Autonomy Architecture standards and integrate proven obstacle avoidance and International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea-compliant behaviors.
CGCS: Huntington Ingalls Industries recently launched an Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence. What is the mission for this center of excellence? How will it enable the company to meet the needs of the U.S. military moving forward?
Chip Wasson: With U.S. Navy’s increasing demand for UUVs and USVs, HII is committed to investing in and expanding our unmanned systems capabilities. The HII Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence, located on the Hampton Roads Center – North Campus, will be a state-of-the-art facility with a high-tech digital manufacturing infrastructure.
This agile space will be reconfigurable for different production and systems integration projects and have precision machining capabilities, a surface finishing area and a dedicated welding space. The new Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence will ensure HII can continue to provide our customers with the most advanced autonomous systems across all class sizes.
CGCS: We’re seeing another trend across the DoD that’s influencing the manufacturing of vehicles and vehicle parts – additive and advanced manufacturing. In fact, we recently saw the announcement of the Jointless Hull Project, which is intended to effectively 3d print seamless, strong, lightweight and agile vehicle structures. Are any of these technologies being embraced at HII?
Chip Wasson: Absolutely. We are actually looking closely and evaluating these technologies for potential use across all three divisions of HII.
“Our UUVs have 3D printed parts as well. We see benefits to cost, design, and even quality for parts that are in some cases, difficult to manufacture though traditional methods.” – Chip Wasson
CGCS: Why are advanced manufacturing tools – such as additive manufacturing – attractive technologies for HII? What new capabilities could these technologies deliver to the company? How could they better position the company to create innovative solutions to government challenges and requirements?
Chip Wasson: We are always looking for new technologies that ensure we are providing the best solutions possible for our customers. As for additive manufacturing, we are actively working material and process qualifications, developing marine alloys – such a copper-nickel – for this technology, and our first 3D printed metal part was installed aboard a nuclear-powered warship in 2019.
Our UUVs have 3D printed parts as well. We see benefits to cost, design, and even quality for parts that are in some cases, difficult to manufacture though traditional methods.