PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - It's a $60 million modernization plan to turn Ingalls Shipbuilding into what state leaders call the shipyard of the future. Huntington Ingalls is investing $40 million in the upgrade while the remaining $20 million is coming from state bonds.
At a ceremonial signing, Gov. Phil Bryant said making Ingalls competitive with any shipyard in the world is well worth the taxpayer investment.
Ingalls officials said when they took a long, hard look at how to make the shipyard more efficient, what stuck out most was the thousands of production hours lost because of rainy days. Officials said when there is a downpour, the work has to stop, but in the future, that won't be the case.
"Well, the covering is so if it rains, they don't have to go home," said Brian Cuccias, Ingalls Shipbuilding President. "We don't have to worry about the water in the units. We can actually complete more of the ship in a better environment. So, the workers have better access to their work. They have better environment, better lighting, better weather conditions."
Ingalls also plans to build another dry dock.
"The dry dock allows us to actually build ships in different locations, and large ships from different parts of the yard," said Cuccias.
State leaders say a more efficient Ingalls benefits all of Mississippi.
"The importance of Ingalls to the State of Mississippi cannot be underestimated," said Rep. Philip Gunn, Mississippi Speaker of the House. "It is the state's largest employer. What you people do down here is incredibly important to the State of Mississippi, and of course, to your community. This is just something we knew we had to get behind."
With a third of the upgrades being paid for with state bonds, Bryant says he is confident this is a good use of taxpayer money.
"I think there's nothing better I'd like to do with my taxpayer dollars than invest in jobs and make sure we build ships for our war fighters," said Bryant. "I think anybody in this state would not hesitate to say if you look at the amount of investment that would be generated by this, it's a really good dollar investment for what we are going to get in return for it."
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said making Ingalls more efficient will also help make sure our nation's defense capabilities continue to be what they need to be.