PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Former NFL player and Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance Chairman and Founder Riki Ellison spoke to officials and shipbuilding industry leaders at Friday morning's Breakfast of Champions in Pascagoula.
The MDAA is a non-profit organization launched in 2002 for the purpose of driving the deployment, development and evolution of missile defense. Ellison stressed the importance of shipbuilders working efficiently, and producing world-class missile defense systems.
"There is an opportunity here that we haven't seen in a long time," Ellison said.
Ellison was able to tour the shipyard on Thursday for a firsthand look at operations.
"We're going to go out from my position to project how important this facility is, and that we need to do more here. We need to grow it. We need to put more ships in the water. We've got to do it faster, we've got to do it cheaper and we've got to do it with more quality," said Ellison.
On display at the breakfast was a model showing the concept of an Integrated Air & Missile Defense Ship designed at Ingalls. The vessel could be the future of shipbuilding in Pascagoula. Steve Sloan, ship program manager, believes it could be the answer to Ellison's challenge.
"It has the space, weight and margin to be able to include future weapons like lasers, a rail gun, things that take down the cost of kill," said Sloan.
According to Sloan, it would be one of the most technologically advanced ships in the world.