Workforce and manufacturing leaders from across the nation met in Virginia to discuss the challenges facing the U.S. Navy’s shipbuilding and repair sectors, along with the efforts and collaborations happening to meet them.
The Accelerated Training in Defense Manufacturing (ATDM) program and the Navy Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AM COE) hosted their third annual summit October 10-12 in Danville, Virginia.
The 2023 theme was “Galvanizing the SIB: Partnering to Deliver 1+2.” With the Navy’s goal to have one Columbia-Class and two Virginia-Class submarines added to its fleet each year through its Submarine Industrial Base (SIB), achieving this “1+2” cadence will require a significant increase in America’s workforce and the infusion of the latest technologies into the manufacturing industry.
Every four months, a cohort of ATDM students takes part in intensive, targeted curriculums, gaining the critical trade skills and required certifications to start their careers in defense manufacturing, including contributing to the Navy’s submarines.
In conjunction with the 2023 Summit, ground was broken on ATDM’s Regional Training Center. When the 100,000 square foot facility is completed in 2025, it will house all the program’s operations, including labs, classrooms and equipment. Upwards of 1,000 graduates of ATDM programs each year is anticipated.
“That’s critical to the nation’s defense and providing components for ships that will ultimately house our sailors, our Marines and many of our military, and will provide the first line of defense to defend the freedoms that so many of us enjoy as Americans,” Telly Tucker, President of the Danville Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), told local media at the groundbreaking.
AM COE’s opening was celebrated at the second summit in October 2022. Part of the State of Virginia’s Center for Manufacturing Advancement (CMA), it has a training partnership with ATDM and enables AM’s influx into shipbuilding and refurbishing operations nationwide, thus building up manufacturing capacity.
ATDM and AM COE are co-located on the IALR campus.
Topics of the 2023 Summit included apprenticeships, employee retention, women in the manufacturing workforce, and how to become an additive manufacturing producer for the Navy.
Among the speakers were Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro and two leaders of the Navy’s Program Executive Office for Strategic Submarines, Program Executive Officer Rear Admiral Scott Pappano and Executive Director Matt Sermon.
“The work being done here in Danville is exceptionally innovative, both for manufacturing and workforce training,” Secretary Del Toro told attendees during his remarks. “These talented professionals fill a critical need in our nation by creating and developing data sets to manufacture mission-essential parts aboard submarines and ships through additive manufacturing, and training the next generation of innovators who will strengthen our warfighting readiness.”
Also delivering remarks was Brad Keselowski, co-owner and lead driver for RFK Racing which runs the BuildSubmarines.com car in the NASCAR Cup Series. Keselowski also owns Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, a defense contractor which focuses on additive metal manufacturing and advanced engineering solutions.
“If you take the challenge to join the manufacturing workforce, you’re serving our nation in one of its most important missions,” Keselowski told the gathering.
BlueForge Alliance leadership and staff were in Danville to advance conversations and provide perspective on the nonprofit neutral integrator’s critical work alongside the SIB, including through its recently redesigned BuildSubmarines.com powered in part by ZipRecruiter.
Steve Fullhart, BlueForge Alliance