Benjamin Hayden recently talked with Michael Fabey about his most recent book, Heavy Metal, The Hard Days and Nights of the Shipyard Workers Who Build America's Supercarriers. The book details the lives of the workers employed at Newport News Shipyard during the construction of the 1,106’ aircraft carrier USS John F Kennedy

Fabey’s decades of reporting on U.S. national security bring about captivating firsthand narratives. The book detailed what goes on behind the scenes at a high-security nuclear naval shipyard. We discussed:

  • Fabey’s initial draw to shipbuilding and his “super-fandom” for the shipbuilders themselves. 
  • The “city-within-a-city” magnitude of the Newport News Shipyard.
  • Navigating yard leadership as a grandfathered-in reporter. 
  • The successes and difficulties of building an 1,106’ aircraft carrier.
  • The implementation of digital shipbuilding, cross-generational collaboration, and the augmentation of jobs these factors bring with them.  
  • The willingness of certain individuals to relay significant building concerns despite possible consequences.
  • Fabey’s next project focused on the Coast Guard’s exploration of the Arctic as a geopolitical focal point brought about by climate change.

Watch the interview below and order Fabey's book, Heavy Metal, here.

Ben Hayden is a Maine resident who grew up in the shipyards of northern Massachusetts. He can be reached at (207) 842-5430 and [email protected].

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