Coming soon: Better Wi-Fi for sailors

by Tommy Grant

The Navy is launching a pilot program in 2024 to assess the feasibility of expanding Wi-Fi connectivity across the waterfront at Huntington Ingalls Industries–Newport News Shipyard in Virginia.

Adm. Scotty Gray, who leads the Navy’s efforts to improve quality of life for sailors, told reporters in November that the pilot program will inform how the Navy expands Wi-Fi access to the entire fleet.

“We’re doing this pilot to make sure that we’re getting our money’s worth, that the sailors appreciate and are using that service,” Gray said. “We will learn from that pilot and then the intention is, from what we learned, make some adjustments, and roll it out Navy-wide so that we can ensure that we get it right.”

Already, Gray’s task force has provided sailors free, high-speed Wi-Fi aboard the aircraft carrier John S. Stennis’ berthing barge as it undergoes its mid-life refueling and complex overhaul, or RCOH, in Newport News.

The improved internet connection is one of several quality of life reforms the Navy is implementing for sailors at shipyards, following a series of suicides aboard the aircraft carrier George Washington in Newport News.

Other initiatives include expanding health-care for sailors, guaranteed off-ship and off-shipyard housing, and consolidated parking.

The reforms come after an investigation recommended nearly 50 changes to bolster mental health resources, improve parking options and other basic amenities in the yards.

As a result, then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday and Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro ordered the creation of a team to establish various standards for quality of service at Newport News Shipbuilding, which could then expand to the entire fleet.

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