As Navy looks to increase the fleet, regional shipbuilding and repair initiative launches

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - It was a meeting of the minds in Portsmouth Tuesday, all with one goal in mind: how can Hampton Roads be prepared to meet the future demand as the Navy looks to massively increase the size of the fleet.

The Navy wants to increase the fleet to 355 ships, up from the about 280 ships it has now. That could be a big opportunity for the region when it comes to building and maintaining those ships.

The America Builds & Repairs Great Ships is a regional effort to bring together the Navy, ship builders, ship repair yards, labor forces, suppliers and others to figure out the talent required for the 355-ship goal and ensure there's a pipeline of workers ready to fill the expected jobs into the future.

"This effort is really about coming together as a region because we see this generational demand and coming together as a region not only as a shipbuilders but ship repair yards, suppliers, educational system, to really understand what we need in this region," Matt Needy, Vice President of Operations for Newport News Shipbuilding told News 3 anchor Todd Corillo Tuesday.

The group is focused on figuring out what the demand will be for various workers; developing plans to recruit, hire, and train those workers; and sharing best practices.

"We have opportunities for our young people to really have a great understanding of the careers before them and also pathways for which we can prepare them for those wonderful opportunities," Dr. Jeffrey Smith, Superintendent of Hampton City Schools, told Corillo.

In June, Senator Tim Kaine hosted a symposium in Hampton focused on what Hampton Roads needed to do to prepare for a bigger Navy.

The America Builds & Repairs Great Ships launch conference took place Tuesday in Portsmouth.

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