Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined ship sponsor and former U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the Navy and the shipbuilding community in celebration of the christening for aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) at the Newport News Shipbuilding facility in Newport News, Va.

In today’s remarks, Sen. Warner recognized Virginia’s strong defense community, including the more than 14,000 men and women who support the Commonwealth’s shipbuilding industry, and applauded the more than 800 ships built by Newport News Shipbuilding since its founding in 1886.

“We are gathered today in celebration of the Kennedy’s entrance into America’s storied carrier program but also in recognition of what it took to get here. I want to commend the nearly 5,000 shipbuilders each of whom played an indispensable role in building this ship. They truly are the greatest shipbuilders in the world,” said Sen. Warner in his remarks.

The John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) is the first aircraft carrier in the Ford Class to utilize electric power, replacing many legacy steam?powered systems, and is the second aircraft carrier built by Newport News Shipbuilding named after JFK. The ship’s design will reduce necessary maintenance by 30 percent and is estimated to save the Navy more than $4 billion over the ship’s 50?year life. 

In October 2017, Sen. Warner joined Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin and shipbuilders on a tour of the main deck of the John F. Kennedy, which was only 60 percent complete at the time.

Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate of Virginia’s defense and shipbuilding community. He has supported a block buy of aircraft carriers, saving billions in taxpayer dollars; and pushed for robust funding for shipbuilding and ship-repair in the annual defense bill. In December 2017, Sen. Warner joined Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and 15 Senators in a letter to then-Defense Secretary James Mattis to support a block buy. Earlier this week, Sen. Warner praised the Navy’s block buy of nine Virginia-class submarines that is poised to create 25,000 jobs in the region.


Sen. Warner’s full remarks as prepared for delivery can be found below:

Thank you, President Boykin. It’s an honor to celebrate this great day for our Navy… for our Commonwealth… and for our Country.

To Ambassador Kennedy and our honored guests, allow me to welcome you to the Commonwealth.

December 7th is a somber day in our history — a reminder of both the sacrifice and courage displayed at Pearl Harbor… 78 years ago today. I think it’s fitting that we christen this great ship in honor of a man… whose legacy is defined by courage… both as a Naval Officer and as our Commander-in-Chief.

It will stand as a testament to the service members gathered here today… and the thousands more who will Serve with Courage aboard the USS John F. Kennedy for years to come.

The truth is, our aircraft carriers are the foundation of America’s stabilizing influence… in a turbulent world. Their combat capabilities can match any threat… on land… in the air… and at sea.

But these floating cities also represent unmatched humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities… empowering the Navy to exercise the compassion of the American people throughout the world.

We are gathered today in celebration… of The Kennedy’s entrance into America’s storied carrier program… but also in recognition…of what it took to get here.

I want to commend the nearly 5000 shipbuilders… each of whom played an indispensable role in building this ship.

Our shipbuilders comprise a community of nearly 14,000 Virginia workers… whose jobs are supported by the carrier industrial base. They represent the greatness of America’s manufacturing potential… and a long, proud tradition of skilled shipbuilders here in Virginia. They truly are the greatest shipbuilders in the world.

So much of our Naval history has been written here in Hampton Roads. And the more than 800 ships built by Newport News Shipbuilding define a significant part of that history.

And with the contract signed just this week… to block-buy nine new Virginia-Class submarines… this shipbuilding tradition will continue here in Newport News… sustaining thousands of good-paying jobs for years to come.

Smart investments in our military readiness… and strong, consistent funding for our nation’s shipbuilding base are absolutely critical:

…for advancing our national security

…for sustaining American manufacturing jobs

… and for strengthening communities like Hampton Roads that make it all possible.

So to our shipbuilders…to our men and women in uniform… and to all who have gathered here today: Thank you for what you do… and for allowing me to join in celebrating the USS John F. Kennedy.