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Ingalls to shutter shipyard next year due to cuts in destroyer program

GULFPORT — Huntington Ingalls Industries says it will close its Gulfport shipyard by May 2014.

In an announcement this morning, the Newport News, Va.-based company said the shutdown is necessary because of a reduction in work for the Navy’s Zumwalt-class destroyers.

Company president and CEO Mike Petters said the Navy has switched to steel for use in future ships.

The decision, he said, means more limited demand for products produced by the company’s Gulfport Composite Center of Excellence.

“This is a difficult but necessary decision,” Petters said in a statement. “Due to the reduction in the Zumwalt-class (DDG 1000) ship construction and the recent U.S. Navy decision to use steel products on Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002), there is both limited and declining Navy use for composite products from the Gulfport Facility.”

Petters said work now underway in Gulfport is expected to be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2014.

“We are working closely with our Navy customer to efficiently complete our composite work on Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) and the mast of Portland (LPD 27) by the end of the first quarter 2014,” said Irwin Edenzon, Huntington Ingalls corporate vice president and president of Ingalls Shipbuilding.

The company said some of the 427 workers at the Gulfport yard may be able to transfer to other Huntington Ingalls yards.

Ingalls also has shipyards in Pascagoula and in Avondale, La., a suburb of New Orleans.

Neither appears to be affected by Wednesday’s announcement though the company has already downsized the Louisiana facility.

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