"Navy Budget Cuts Could Force Job Cuts" ASA President Says - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/20/04

"Navy Budget Cuts Could Force Job Cuts" ASA President Says

The next time you pass Northrop Grumman in Pascagoula take a good look, because one person says there may soon not be much to see.

The president of the American Shipbuilding Association says that industry here and around the nation is in trouble.

They aren't just building any ship.

They're building an Aegis guided missile destroyer for the U.S. Navy.

Because of Naval budget cuts, contracts to build these kind vessels are now few and far in-between.

Cindy Brown is the American Shipbuilding Association president.

She says our navy is the smallest it's been since the beginning of WWI, and if it gets any smaller, our national defense may be the next thing we start importing.

"China is growing her naval ship building like no other country, and if we don't build ships in this country, we'll have to depend on china for homeland security," Brown said.

A frightening thought for a country who considers itself as a super power.

In 1987, our country's naval fleet consisted of almost 600 ships, today we have half of that number. Brown says if we don't put enough pressure on the white house, our nation's defense may not be the only thing in trouble. Some south Mississippian's could also loose their jobs.

"If a ship is not funded, it means that those people will not have a job tomorrow," Brown said.

Brown's talking about the trickle-down theory.

If the navy loses money, it buys less ships, less ships means fewer contracts for companies like Northrop Grumman, which, in turn, could mean fewer workers.

Since Northrop Grumman employs 11-thousand skilled workers from South Mississippi,

Brown says another cut could take a big bite out of are state's economy and our national defense.

Northrop Grumman executive Jim McIngvale says South Mississippi has nothing to worry about in the next few years.

The Pascagoula plant has a healthy backlog of ships to build.

But if this trend continues into the next decade, he says, Northrop Grumman will have to be very competitive to get new ship contracts.

By: Jaimee Goad

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