Huntington Ingalls gives Pascagoula shipbuilders a fresh start

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Just before sunrise Thursday, a sea of lights filled Jerry St Pe Highway leading to the Pascagoula shipyard. Nearly 11,000 men and women headed to the same jobs they did yesterday, building war vessels. But  now they're working for a new company: Huntington Ingalls Industries.

"I am very excited," said shipbuilder Marcus McCoy. "As long as we get the job done, and build ships, we are all good."

Northrop Grumman led the Gulf Coast team of shipbuilders for 10 years, building 25 mega ships for our country.

"Work is work, and doesn't matter if it is Northrop Grumman or Huntington. It is the same thing," a shipbuilder said as he walked to work.

Northrop's spin-off deal is nothing more than a simple name change to some.

"We really have not seen a difference yet," another shipbuilder said. "We are going to get little stickers for our badges today, that is about the only difference I have seen so far."

There were some craftsmen heading to work who were a little more optimistic about their shipbuilding futures.

"Change is always exciting."

Some shipbuilders hope Thursday's official change means better management and stability in the workplace.

"Everybody is able to still keep their job because the economy is bad," James Johnson said.

Right now, Huntington Ingalls Industries has about half dozen ships under construction and under contract.  Among them, The San Antonio Class of amphibious Navy ships and National Security Cutters for the U.S. Coast Guard.

"There are plenty of boats to build, we got plenty of work."

"The main thing is we still have a job," a shipbuilder said.

It's a job that's been going on here for more than 70 years and these men and women say the work they do will help make the new company a success.

The Avondale Shipyard in Louisiana is scheduled to close in 2013. Next week, Huntington Ingalls Industries President Mike Petters will be in Pascagoula. The new company will be hosting a lunch for community leaders.

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