Huntington Ingalls head shares vision with Jackson Co. leaders

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - A new United States Navy contract and billions of dollars in backlogged work will keep the shipbuilding business on the coast steaming ahead. That's what Huntington Ingalls President Mike Petters told Jackson County leaders during a luncheon in Pascagoula Tuesday.

"This is not day four of a brand new company trying to figure out what it is trying to go do," President Mike Petters said. "We started out with a business that has six and half billion dollars in revenue, last week we had $17 billion in backlog, now we have $18 billion."

Petters said Northrop Grumman's focus is serving the whole Pentagon.  Huntington Ingalls will focus on its primary customers like the Navy and Coast Guard. The company has shipyards in Virginia, Louisiana, Gulfport, and Pascagoula.

"We know that our customers care about safety, quality, cost, and schedule," Petters said. "We get those things right then. Our partnerships with the communities, our engagement with our shareholders, all of that will be handled very well and everything will go smoothly."

According to Petters, another goal is to remain a partner in this community and support the local economy by providing job stability here.  The company has more 11,000 shipbuilders working on the Gulf Coast.

"We won't lose any jobs specifically because of the way we did this transaction," Petters said about shipyard employment. "Our own performance will assist in getting those contracts done and help drive us to the right kind of employment level we need to have."

Several of these state and county leaders said they're more optimistic about the new business after hearing Tuesday's speech.

"We think this will be here for a long, long time," Jackson County Board of Supervisors President, Melton Harris said. "I listened to the backlog of work the shipyard has on its plate and that sounds great."

"I think you would see expansion here, renewed energy here, and renewed emphasis on the quality here," said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

According to Petters, a plan is still in place to close down the Louisiana shipyard in 2013. But the company is remaining open minded and will consider other alternatives.

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