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Avondale might see more shipbuilding

AVONDALE, La. — Two members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation say the U.S. Navy has agreed to move up the construction of double-hulled tankers from 2017 to 2014, giving the Avondale shipyard an opportunity to compete for new contracts.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and Congressman Charlie Melancon said late yesterday that the Navy will make its plans public today.

Northrop Grumman Corp. plans to close the shipyard in 2013 and consolidate its Gulf Coast military shipwork at Pascagoula. Currently, 4,700 people work at Avondale.

Landrieu and Melancon say the quicker tanker schedule could enable the yard to maintain a work force through 2013 — and make it more attractive for purchase by another shipbuilding company.

Currently, Avondale is building its last two ships in the Navy’s series of amphibious attack vessels.

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