Ingalls’ contracts means shipbuilder will add jobs — for now

PASCAGOULA — Ingalls Shipbuilding contracts, which will keep workers busy into 2016, mean an uptick in employment although company leaders say the trend will remain cyclical, as seen throughout the shipyard’s history.

The Mississippi Press reports Ingalls’ employees are working on nine different vessels at three shipyards, with construction on three other ships yet to begin.

This year alone, Ingalls Shipbuilding has received four construction contracts — for DDG 113, DDG 114, NSC 5 and LPD 26 — worth more than $3.4 billion.

“Although our hiring ramp will begin in spring of 2012, we have current openings for ship-fitters, welders and insulators at our Pascagoula facility and composite mechanics at our Gulfport facility,” company spokesman Bill Glenn said.

Over the next three years, he said, Ingalls anticipates hiring more than 5,000 shipbuilders.

“We anticipate the need to hire a large number of critical craft beginning in 2012 and continuing through 2014,” Glenn said. “We expect our requirements for 2012 to center around hull crafts such as welders and ship-fitters, and then transition into pipe (pipefitters and pipewelders) and electrical.”

The Gulf Coast yards’ total workload, which represents more than $5 billion in contract awards, will stretch into at least 2016. Officials said the work could be extended further, depending on the construction timeline for Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, designated DDG 114, which has not yet been determined.

That latest destroyer — worth $697.6 million to Ingalls — was the latest construction contract to be awarded and represents the 30th guided missile destroyer to be built by the company. The award was announced Sept. 26.

Ingalls delivered William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) to the Navy in February, and this is the first time the shipyard has been without a destroyer in production, although contracts are in hand for DDG 113 and 114.

Currently at the Pascagoula yard, about 10,500 shipbuilders are constructing a Legend-class national security cutter for the Coast Guard and three San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks and an America-class amphibious assault ship for the Navy.

San Diego (LPD 22), Arlington (LPD 24), John P. Murtha (LPD 26) are on track for completion this year, in 2012 and in 2016, respectively.

Hamilton (NSC 4) will be complete in 2014, and the shipyard has secured a contract for NSC 5, which is not yet under construction but is expected to be delivered in 2015.

America (LHA 6) is on track for a 2012 completion, company representatives said.

At the composite yard in Gulfport, where the company employs about 500, workers are building the deckhouses for DDG 1000 and DDG 1001, Zumwalt-class destroyers that are ultimately assembled by Bath Iron Works in Maine.

In Avondale, La., amphibious transport docks Anchorage (LPD 23) and Somerset (LPD 25) are on track for completion in 2012 and 2013, respectively. These are the last two ships expected to be built there, as the company plans to shutter the yard.

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