Cruise Ship Work Starts Up Again

About 350 employees at a Pascagoula shipyard have resumed work on an 840-foot-long cruise ship. Work on the ship at Northrop Grumman Ingalls shipbuilding was halted in October when the U.S. Maritime Administration decided to stop guaranteeing $1.1 billion in loans for the ship construction project. That decision was made after American Classic Voyages of Sunrise, Fla., the company for which Ingalls was building the ships, had filed bankruptcy.

Ingalls spokesman Den Knecht said Thursday the Maritime Administration asked the shipyard to finish the ship's hull, which is about 55 percent complete. ``The Maritime Administration has agreed to reimburse us for the work we're doing in finishing the ship for launch,'' Knecht said. There was no estimate how much the work would cost. This fall, the ship will be launched and towed to a storage facility or to a buyer, Knecht said.

The Maritime Administration hopes to sell the vessel as a way of recouping the nearly $185 million in tax dollars that was sunk into the cruise ship construction program, dubbed Project America.