Northrop Grumman welcomes families

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - You've probably never seen Northrop Grumman the way it was Saturday. Instead of hard hats, you could see hula hoops, and instead of individual workers, there were families.

For some of those family members, it was their first glimpse into what goes on behind the gates of the shipyard.

"Folks are here building ships and their families are supporting them," said Irwin Edenzon, CEO and General Manager of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems- Gulf Coast.  "We just thought it would be a great idea for them to come see what their families and spouses and brothers and sisters are working on every day to make a living."

And they came out in throngs, waiting in massive lines to tour a ship and learn what it takes to build them. While most family members seemed to know the basics of their loved ones' career, some of them never knew the specifics until Saturday.

"We go over the bridge and say, 'There's daddy over there,'" said Tracy Davidson, whose husband, Aundrake is a welder.  "We don't know where he is, we just know he's over there."

They have a much clearer picture now. Aundrake Davidson proudly led his family through the different displays from engineering to pipefitting, teaching his children what it really takes to build a ship.

"They ask a lot of questions when we're at home," he said about his children. "I wanted to give them the chance to see what I do, what the shipyard does, and why it's so exciting to be a part of the Northrop Grumman Ship Building System."

Debra Brown brought her two stepsons. She says its such a rare occasion for family to be welcomed into the shipyard, she wanted to be there.

"I've been here 9 years, and I've never known them to have one of these," Brown said. "So that's why I was excited to see how it was."

She hopes what her stepsons learned at Saturday's event will stick with them forever.

"There are some real jobs out there," she said. "And it is a good trade at the shipyard.  I'm proud to be a shipbuilder."

Edenzon said he believes the last family day of this scale was held more than 10 years ago.  He doesn't have immediate plans for another Family Day, but he wants them to become more frequent.

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