Manufacturing continues as Avondale's last ship about to sail

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wwltv.com

Posted on August 12, 2013 at 6:31 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 12 at 6:40 PM

AVONDALE, La. -- There are now about 700 employees hanging on to their jobs at Avondale Shipyards on the Westbank of Jefferson Parish. That's down from a peak workforce of about 5800 just a few years ago.

Building Trades Union leader Andrew Croom says a group of his insulators were laid off Monday morning.

"Our name, it could show up on the lay off list any day," said Croom. "We just have to wait and see."

LPD-25, also know as the U.S.S. Sommerset is due to leave the dock for sea trials Tuesday morning.

According to the union, if all things check out with the ship, the work will virtually be over in this side of the levee at the Avondale Shipyards.

"You're still waiting for this little something that might happen, but from the way it looks, that it's just winding down, time is just winding down," said Croom. "My understanding, at this time, there's no work available, but in the factory. You've got some shipfitters, welders and and a few pipefitters over there."

Jefferson Economic Development Commission Executive Director Jerry Bologna says Huntington-Ingalls, the company that owns the shipyard is getting out of the shipbuilding business at Avondale.

Instead he says the company is going after large scale modular construction work.

"There's been billions of dollars in large scale construction projects announced throughout the state, along the Mississippi River, along the coast, and that what they see as their niche," said Bologna.

Bologna says one ammonia plant that just broke ground in West Jefferson could be a good partner for Huntington-Ingalls.

"Going back almost two years, we've tried to marry up Dyno-Nobel with the folks at Avondale to try and see if there was an opportunity for them to gain some of that work."

Avondale is now expected to keep its manufacturing facility open, at least for now, while JEDCO and others help find permanent work for the facility.

"I think they're trying to identify some of these short term solutions to keep the workforce employed so when they are able to announce some of these large modular construction projects, they'll have that workforce already on board," said Bologna.

Right now the factory at Avondale is busy producing parts for ships now being built at the Huntington-Ingalls facility in Pascagoula, Miss.

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