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HII names Brandi Smith as VP for Columbia-class submarines

Brandi Smith

Posted on May 30, 2022

Newport News-based Fortune 500 contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries has named Brandi Smith vice president of the Columbia class submarine program at its Newport News Shipbuilding division.

Smith succeeds Charles Southall, who is retiring July 1 after more than 35 years, HII said in a news release Thursday.

The Columbia class has long been the Navy’s top acquisition priority. The 12 boats from its class are eventually expected to replace the service’s aging fleet of 14 Ohio-class nuclear submarines.

Southall started at the shipyard in 1986 as an engineering intern in the submarine program and has served in various roles of increasing responsibility. He established the Columbia-class submarine program office during his tenure as director of advanced submarine programs. Southall also served as the division’s chief engineer and engineering vice president, responsible for leading engineering efforts across all Navy programs.

“Since the very beginning of his career, Charles has demonstrated deep commitment and ownership for every program, every assignment and every ship he has supported,” Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin said in a statement. “His leadership and technical acumen have shaped the design and construction of our nuclear fleet for more than three decades, and his impact will endure for generations to come.”

Smith will start her new role June 1. He responsibilities will include leading companywide management and leadership of the Columbia program, including overseeing costs, schedules and technical performance. She started at the shipyard in 2002 as an engineer in the aircraft carrier overhaul program and has held varying roles, including interim director of construction engineering for the Ford class as well as engineering lead for integrated digital shipbuilding. She most recently served as construction program director for the Columbia class.

“Brandi’s experiences encompass a breadth of service on every ship class in our portfolio from ‘design-build’ through ‘in-service’ maintenance,” Boykin said. “Her academic, technical, industrial and proven leadership has uniquely prepared her for this role.”

Smith received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University and a master’s degree in business administration from William and Mary.

HII is Virginia’s largest industrial employer and includes a workforce of more than 44,000 people, including at Newport News Shipbuilding.


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