Huntington Ingalls gets $2.38 billion Navy contract

JACKSON — The U.S. Navy has awarded a $2.38 billion contract to Huntington Ingalls Industries to build an amphibious assault ship.

The future USS Tripoli will be built at the company’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division in Pascagoula. The Defense Department announced the contract Thursday.

The shipyard earlier won a contract to order advance materials.

The Tripoli’s sister ship, the future USS America, is currently under construction in Pascagoula. Huntington Ingalls says it will launch the America this summer and deliver it to the Navy next year. The ships are meant to land Marines on shore using helicopters supported by fighter jets, and can serve as small aircraft carriers. The previous class of assault ships could also launch landing craft from an interior dock.

The shipyard, with 10,000 employees, is Mississippi’s largest industrial employer.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced earlier this month that the ship would be named the Tripoli. It will be the third ship to bear that name, commemorating the capture of Derna in what is now Libya in 1805 by a force of U.S. Marines and soldiers from other nations. The battle, memorialized in the Marines’ Hymn with the line “to the shores of Tripoli,” brought victory in the First Barbary War against Mediterranean pirates.

Huntington Ingalls, based in Newport News, Va., had said earlier this month that it was negotiating the contract with the Navy.

“Large-deck amphibious ship construction is an important component of our business plan, and we are pleased to have reached agreement with the Navy on this contract,” said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Irwin F. Edenzon.

The ship will be 844 feet long, 106 feet wide and weigh nearly 45,000 tons. It will host a crew of more than 1,000, with room to carry more than 1,600 additional Marines.

Ingalls is the only American shipyard which builds amphibious assault ships, having built 13 others in the past. Ingalls struggled to build the last amphibious ship that it delivered, the USS Makin Island. Then parent-company Northrop Grumman Corp. had to write off more than $200 million after it had to rip out and redo bad wiring.

“We have an excellent build plan in place for (the ship), and we will continue to develop fresh ideas through the knowledge and experience our shipbuilders have in large-deck construction,” said Brian Cuccias, Ingalls’ vice president for large-deck amphibious ships.

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