Economic Impact, Future Of Project Remain Unknown - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

IMPACT LIKELY TO BE SPREAD ACROSS COAST, OFFICIAL SAYS

Economic Impact, Future Of Project Remain Unknown

Remaining Ingalls crews spent most of the day removing tools and equipment from around the cruise ship presently under construction. The work on the ship was stopped before crews came into work at 6:50 am.

"We came in there this morning, and they're saying, 'Everybody that's on the cruise ship, out the gate,'" Ingalls worker Jerry Warden said.

Ingalls told employees a slow tourism market this year has hurt the cruise ship business and forced the ship's owners to file for bankruptcy.

"It's unstable, and the way people are not traveling to Hawaii is what they said this morning is the reason why they're shutting it down, everybody staying home and not traveling."

Funding for the $1.1 billion project was guaranteed by the federal government. Now that American Classic Voyages declared bankruptcy, that guarantee is gone. Northrop Grumman officials wouldn't comment on camera, but the new Ship System president released a statement.

"It is with sincere regret and a deep feeling of disappointment that we discontinue work on this contract," the statement read.

"We sort of felt like this might happen when American Classic filed Chapter 11," Terry Carter with the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce said. "The management of Northrop Grumman is working this seriously, and the final chapter has not been written."

County leaders say even if all 1,250 jobs are lost, the impact will be spread through the region and not hit just one area.

"Under a worst case scenario the impact will be spread over Mobile County, Harrison, Hancock, George, Stone, and Jackson counties, and so there is not going to be a tremendous economic impact for the local economy."

"I'd hate to see it fold because the economy needs it. We need it here. You know, everybody is closing down, and we hope the cruise liner stays afloat," Warden said.

By Ken Flanagan

Online Producer Glenn Cummins

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