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HII CEO Mike Petters Addresses VSRA Membership at September Luncheon

The September General Membership Meeting was held on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 at the Portsmouth Renaissance Hotel. Mike Petters, CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries was the guest speaker for the event.

Mr. Petters began by discussing the current activity of Huntington Ingalls Industries, and then introduced three key issues that he believes affect shipbuilding and repair, but that the industry has no control over.

First and foremost, Mr. Petters discussed the need for the United States to address how to navigate peer-competition over the next decade or two, pointing out that, "we do not have the advantages we had last time" when faced with peer-competition of this nature, such as the ability to overwhelm our adversaries economically.

Mr. Petters also brought up a concurrent challenge: estimates show that in the year 2032 the federal government will be paying more for healthcare and pensions than will be collected in tax revenues. With all tax revenues absorbed by these expenses, there will be no money left for other things - such as national defense. Mr. Petters stressed to the Membership that the year 2032 is "just not that far away" and that the implications are dramatic if this issue is not addressed sooner rather than later.

Continuing along the lines of the first two challenges, Mr. Petters spoke to current discussions surrounding expansion to a 355 ship Navy. These are great discussions, he said, but then reminded the Membership that the U.S. has 285 ships today and, "the Navy does not have the money to operate them." Coupled with increased peer-competition and a drain on funding abilities, Mr. Petters wondered, "where does that leave us?"

Finally, Mr. Petters spoke to Continuing Resolutions (CRs) and Sequestration, expressing frustration that individual members of Congress seem to understand that something must be done to change this system, but that there is no catalyst. Mr. Petters praised Secretary of Defense James Mattis for being very vocal about the effects of CRs and Sequestration on the Armed Forces and National Defense.

Mike Petters is president and CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries, America’s largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of professional services to partners in government and industry. He is also a member of HII’s Board of Directors.

Petters previously served as president of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding and as president of Northrop Grumman’s Newport News sector. He joined Newport News Shipbuilding in 1987 in the Los Angeles-class submarine construction division. He held a number of increasingly responsible positions throughout the organization, including production supervisor for submarines, marketing manager for submarines and carriers, vice president of aircraft carrier programs, vice president of contracts and pricing, and vice president of human resources.

A native of Florida, Petters earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982, served aboard the nuclear-powered submarine USS George Bancroft (SSBN 643) and spent five years in the U.S. Naval Reserve. In 1993, he earned an MBA from the College of William and Mary.

Petters is chairman of the Virginia Business Council, a member of the Aerospace Industries Association’s executive committee and a member of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates. He serves on the board of directors for the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, the National Bureau of Asian Research and the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education. He also serves on the board of advisors for the Center for a New American Security, the board of trustees of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation and the distinguished advisory board for the Dolphin Scholarship Foundation.

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 provides a wide range of professional services through its Fleet Support, Integrated Missions Solutions, Nuclear and Environmental, and Oil and Gas groups. Headquartered in Newport News, Virginia, HII employs nearly 37,000 people operating both domestically and internationally. For more information, visit: www.huntingtoningalls.com.

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