Northrop Grumman's Shipbuilding head awaits word on defense budget - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Northrop Grumman's Shipbuilding head awaits word on defense budget

ST. MARTIN, Miss. (AP) - Northrop Grumman's president of shipbuilding says the company expects to deliver nine ships over the next year and has a $23 billion backlog of business.

Mike Petters spoke Thursday at an economic development meeting on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Petters overseas all of Northrop's shipyards - Newport News, Va.; Pascagoula and Gulfport in Mississippi; Avondale and Tallulah in Louisiana. "We've got a lot of different kinds of work going on right now, and it's a pretty intense time for us," Petters said.

"There will be some significant ship deliveries in Pascagoula in the next two years a couple destroyers, the LHD 8, and an LPD coming out of New Orleans." Petters says shipbuilder "has a tremendous portfolio of products." Petters said Northrop could specifically benefit from a proposed maritime training academy. "That is a huge, huge change for our organization," Petters said. Jackson County is seeking a $20 million grant for federal funds to build a shipbuilding academy that would help local shipyards better train employees.

Petters said the project would be "a tremendous lever for us going forward in terms of workforce." Petters said Northrop still awaits word on the U.S. Department of Defense's budget, which has been delayed into April or possibly May. "We don't really have a good view of where they're going to go in the future," Petters said. "I think we're all in the wait-and-see mode. Everything that's out right now is speculation, and that quickly becomes hypothetical," he said. -

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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