WASHINGTON — Huntington Ingalls Industries’ board of directors on Thursday elected Chris Kastner, the company’s current chief operating officer, to be its next president and CEO.
Kastner will succeed Mike Petters, who will become the executive vice chairman of Huntington Ingalls’ board during the leadership transition period, the shipbuilder said in a release Friday morning.
They will both take on their new roles March 1. Huntington Ingalls said Kastner’s selection is part of the company’s multiyear succession-planning process.
Petters, who has led Huntington Ingalls since it was spun off from Northrop Grumman in 2011, said he has “complete confidence in Chris and the senior leadership team in this next chapter.”
Petters led the largest shipbuilder in the United States for more than a decade, significantly reshaping the business. Convinced the company needed to diversify its work, he acquired services contractor Camber and created HII’s technical solutions business. Six months ago, Huntington Ingalls added services contractor Alion, again growing its portfolio.
Petters also emphasized the importance of unmanned systems, making a number of acquisitions to bolster the company’s expertise. About a year ago, Huntington Ingalls said it was ready to open the first phase of its unmanned systems center of excellence in Hampton, Virginia.
Kastner was promoted to COO nearly a year ago. He previously spent nearly five years as chief financial officer, and before that was CFO of the company’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
Before Huntington Ingalls’ 2011 spinoff, Kastner worked on Northrop Grumman’s B-2 bomber, Joint STARS and Global Hawk programs, as well as serving as corporate director of strategic transitions.
Petters will stay on at HII through 2022 and continue to represent the company. He will continue to serve as chairman of the board of governors of the Aerospace Industries Association.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter at Defense News. He previously reported for Military.com, covering the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare. Before that, he covered U.S. Air Force leadership, personnel and operations for Air Force Times.