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VT Halter, Northrop getting federal funds

PASCAGOULA — VT Halter Marine and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding have received a total of $21 million from the Department of Defense for upgrades.

Halter Marine is receiving $8.4 million for infrastructure improvements at its Pascagoula shipyard, which was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The improvements include shipyard paving, utility improvements, crane rail extensions and the procurement of additional crawler and overhead cranes.

It’s part of a series of contracts Gulf Coast shipbuilders are receiving for Katrina repairs. Funds from the program go to yards that held Navy contracts at the time of the storm.

Halter Marine CEO Bill Skinner said the paving is to expand the tilt launch system the company installed shortly after the hurricane.

“The extension will allow us to build larger vessels and modules,” Skinner said. “It’ll increase our productivity tremendously.”

The cranes also increase capacity, he said, as the yard’s current cranes are in the 300-ton capacity range.

The work at Halter Marine in Pascagoula is expected to be complete by July 2012.

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding secured a $12.2 million contract add-on for upgrades to its Pascagoula, Gulfport and New Orleans yards.

Officials said the upgrades should result in cost reductions in current and future Navy shipbuilding contracts and to improve the ability of the shipbuilders to withstand damage from potential hurricanes or other natural disasters.

“These improvements will continue the significant enhancements established for recovery of production capability and infrastructure at all Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Gulf Coast facilities,” company spokesman Bill Glenn said Tuesday.

At Northrop’s Pascagoula yard, the money will fund a ship cleaning system, accuracy control equipment, a Haeusler collar forming work cell, a material handling system, specialized flushing equipment and a cable plant management system.

The Haeusler collar forming work cell replaces a 750-ton brake press currently used to form collars, Glenn said, and the new work cell will alleviate distortion in steel plates, which will reduce rework and cycle time.

The new material handling project includes the design and construction four material elevators to improve loading material on board ships, he said.

The New Orleans yard will also receive a cable plant management system, and the Gulfport composite yard will get a five-axis saw.

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