WASHINGTON — Huntington Ingalls Industries has named Brandi Smith to lead the construction activities for the U.S. Navy’s top shipbuilding priority, the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine.

HII is one of two shipyards building the replacement fleet for the Ohio-class submarines. The Columbia-class subs are to begin patrols in the early 2030s.

Smith’s has served as an engineer on an aircraft carrier program and worked her way up the chain of the command inside HII, where she’s worked since 2002. Most recently she was head of all nuclear, non-nuclear and non-destructive testing at the company, which means she would have worked closely with the Navy’s famously persnickety Naval Reactors organization.

Smith’s role will be to head the construction of Columbia — HII is currently working on advanced construction under a contract from General Dynamics Electric Boat — and maintain “strong relationships with General Dynamics Electric Boat and Navy customers,” according to a company release.

She’ll be working directly for Jason Ward, Newport News Shipbuilding’s vice president for Columbia-class submarine construction.

“Brandi brings demonstrated leadership skills required to sustain the momentum achieved in our Columbia-class program,” Ward said in the release. “We look forward to her joining our team.”

David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News. Before that, he reported for Navy Times.

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