Lawmakers optimistic about the future of Ingalls

Lawmakers optimistic about the future of Ingalls
(Photo Source: WLOX News)

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The newest national security cutter, Kimball, is now one step closer to being commissioned.

Ship Sponsor Kay Webber Cochran glistened as the crowd celebrated the important milestone.

"It's the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me," said Cochran.

But amidst the celebration, uncertainty after President Donald Trump's Administration released a budget eliminating more than $600 million that was to be used to build a new cutter at Ingalls Shipbuilding.

Cochran's husband, Senator Thad Cochran, played a big role in getting the contract to Pascagoula. She's looking to him to keep that money in Mississippi.

"I hope with the help of Senator Cochran we can keep them financed, and also keep more ships being built in Pascagoula," Cochran said.

Rep. Steven Palazzo showed optimism despite the newest budget.

"It's just a budget, it's a recommendation," Palazzo said.

Palazzo says the ships are a huge national security asset, especially for the fight against the drug cartel.

"This shipyard is basically part of the single largest economic driver in South Mississippi. We're going to protect our shipyard, we're going to protect all four classes of ships," said Palazzo.

Gov. Phil Bryant shares that same optimism.

"I know the president says he wants to build a navy and this is certainty a part of protecting the seas. This is coast guard cutter number seven, we're looking forward to 8, 9 being constructed here at Ingalls,"said Bryant.

And while Ingalls executives hope production continues in South Mississippi, they're relying on lawmakers to call the shots.

"I think Washington will sort that out in terms of the money and what they want," said Ingalls president, Brian Cuccias. "Our job is to really produce ships as affordable as possible."

The Kimball is the seventh legend class national security cutter built at Ingalls.

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