Chief of Naval Operations tours Ingalls shipyard - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Chief of Naval Operations tours Ingalls shipyard

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PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

The Chief of Naval Operations made a special trip to the Pascagoula Thursday to visit Ingalls, which is Mississippi's largest private employer. 

"I am here to see how the shipbuilding is going. Ingalls is very important to us."

During Admiral Jonathan Greenert's visit to the Pascagoula yard, he talked about how he's keeping a close eye on the debate in Washington over government spending. 

"There is so many different ways that this could go with regard to the current, as they call it, fiscal cliff," Greenert said. 

What happens in Washington could also have a major impact on the shipbuilding workforce in future. Right now, 9,500 people work at Ingalls. The workers build technologically advanced warships for the Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps. 

"What I can say to the people is shipbuilding is our future. It is the Navy's future and that is a prime spearhead for me as I look out into the future. Clearly, Ingalls is a major part of our future." 

That is good news to Ingalls President Irwin Edenzon in this tough economy. 

"With the contracts that we have with the Navy now, our workload is pretty stable for the next few years. My feeling is over that period time the government is going to figure out how they are going to continue to fund a great Navy," Edenzon said.

Even if a debt reduction is reached, both men agree it's important to look at the best ways to build more effective and efficient vessels for our service men and women to defend our country. 

"Efficiency is very important, construction that is long standing, volume and something that can take into account the transition of the future," Adm. Greenert said. "Twenty years ago we had no idea we would be doing the things we are doing today. We need to take that into account as we think about the shipbuilding future."

The Ingalls team has also come up with a new approach to hopefully save time, taxpayer dollars, keep its workforce steady.  It's called the LPD Flight II Approach.  Ingalls officials said the plan is to use the same hull form design from its amphibious ships. They would change tools and other needs on the ships to fit the different missions of the Navy. Ingalls is the sole provider of the newest classes of amphibious ships.

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