Former soldier tasked with getting Navy builder in shipshape

Dec 26, 2022, 5:04 PM | Updated: Dec 27, 2022, 7:07 am
Charles F. Krugh, president of Bath Iron Works, poses at the shipyard Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022, in Ba...

Charles F. Krugh, president of Bath Iron Works, poses at the shipyard Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022, in Bath, Maine. The former Gulfstream Areospace executive and U.S. Army veteran oversees a workforce that builds destroyers for the Navy. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

BATH, Maine (AP) — Making the switch from building corporate jets to building Navy warships has been reinvigorating for a soldier-turned-business executive who’s leading Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works.

Charles “Chuck” Krugh said he wasted no time in getting his hands dirty, meeting daily with workers on the ships’ “deck plates.”

“I’m a hands-on guy that likes to get into the details,” he said.

Shipbuilders weren’t so sure at first whether it was just an act, but after six months they’re now accustomed to him regularly chatting with shipbuilders to get a handle on their workflow, at all hours of the day and night.

Labor relations have improved along the way.

“It’s all been good. We’re moving in the right direction. We’ve just got to keep moving that way,” said Rock Grenier, president of Local S6 of the Machinists Union, which represents production workers.

Krugh, 58, arrived in June after the abrupt departure of former Bath Iron Works President Dirk Lesko, who led the General Dynamics subsidiary through a difficult period that included a pandemic and a two-month strike, both of which lengthened construction delays.

The future USS Carl M. Levin that completed acceptance trials this month is more than a year behind schedule. The silver lining, Krugh said, is that the warship earned the highest marks for a Bath-built ship in years in a review by the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey.

Krugh said he’s encouraging the shipyard’s 7,000 workers to rethink processes to ensure they can complete tasks as efficiently as possible. A big part of that is ensuring proper planning before a task even starts.

“We show people that you can do the impossible, or the seemingly impossible, if you spend enough preparation time to get things ready. So that’s the good news side of what we’re doing, and we’re seeing a momentum building now,” he said.

The Army veteran formerly served at Gulfstream, another General Dynamics subsidiary, which builds business jets, before being tasked with overseeing a historic shipyard that dates to the late 1800s.

He said he was taken aback by labor relations and the condition of the company upon his arrival.

Part of the improvement in relations with the union and in shipbuilding efficiency was the rehiring of shipyard veteran, David Clark, from Marinette Marine, to serve as vice president of manufacturing, Grenier said.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep building those ships faster and more efficient,” the union president said.

The shipyard is continuing to hire hundreds of new workers to replace older workers who are retiring, and Krugh said they’ll picking up the necessary skills to build the latest versions of the Arleigh Burke destroyer along with the next-generation destroyer in coming years.

Continual improvement made possible by cooperation is necessary to assure the shipyard’s survival, said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute.

The future isn’t assured for the shipyard beyond the current decade unless the shipyard continues to become more competitive, Thompson said. Bath Iron Works competes with the larger Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi for contracts to build destroyers, the workhorse of the Navy.

“It is imperative for the union and management to get along because if they don’t, the long-term consequences for the yard could be fatal,” he said.

As for Krugh, he said some outsiders mistakenly suggested he’d struggle with the transition from aerospace to shipbuilding.

But he said he’s rejuvenated by being closer to the military — and urged any critics to watch and see what happens at the shipyard before casting judgment on the shipyard’s abilities.

“This is really personal for me. This is our country. We don’t build mixers here. We’re building the warships that are going to protect my family, your family and other Americans,” he said.

___

Follow David Sharp on Twitter @David_Sharp_AP

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - The Starbucks logo is seen on a storefront, Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, in Boston Starbucks repor...
Associated Press

Starbucks misses sales, revenue estimates as China falters

Starbucks reported lower-than-expected sales in its fiscal first quarter, with COVID store shutdowns in China overshadowing stronger results elsewhere.
13 hours ago
The Amazon DTW1 fulfillment center is shown in Romulus, Mich., April 1, 2020. Amazon reports financ...
Associated Press

Amazon beats Q4 revenue estimates, but profits slump

Amazon on Thursday reported worse-than-expected profits, but its revenue beat expectations boosted by sales in North America businesses and the cloud-computing unit AWS.
13 hours ago
legislature...
Associated Press

Washington’s low-income tax credit available for first time

 Up to $1,200 is now available for thousands of low-income working Washington residents, thanks to a 2008 law that has finally been funded.
13 hours ago
FILE - A dead horse lies on the dried lakebed of the Aculeo Lagoon during a drought in Paine, Chile...
Associated Press

5 dead in Chile amid struggle to contain raging wildfires

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — At least five people have died as a result of the more than 150 wildfires burning across Chile that have destroyed homes and thousands of acres of forests while the South American country is in the midst of a scorching heat wave. The deaths all took place in the Biobío region, […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Closing prices for crude oil, gold and other commodities

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for March delivery fell $2.49 to $73.39 a barrel Friday. Brent crude for April delivery fell $2.23 to $79.94 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline for March delivery fell 13 cents to $2.32 a gallon. March heating oil fell 12 cents $2.78 a gallon. March natural gas fell 5 cents to $2.41 per […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Man charged in Tennessee jogger’s death pleads not guilty

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The man charged with raping and killing a Tennessee kindergarten teacher during a pre-dawn run in Memphis last year pleaded not guilty Friday. Cleotha Henderson, who has also used the name Cleotha Abston, was indicted last week on charges that include first-degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping, The Daily Memphian reported. […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Former soldier tasked with getting Navy builder in shipshape