Oct 15, 2010 10:15 PM by Alison Haynes
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - An Ohio company has written governors in three Southern states in a push to purchase the military shipbuilding division of Northrop Grumman Corp., pledging to keep a major Louisiana shipyard open.
Cleveland Ship LLC sent letters this week through its Cleveland Shipbuilding Division to Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Bob McDonnell of Virginia
Northrop Grumman Corp. announced plans on July 13 to shutter the Avondale shipyard near New Orleans in early 2013 and consolidate its Gulf Coast military shipbuilding at Pascagoula, Miss. About 4,600 people now work at Avondale.
The company has said it is exploring alternatives for its Northrop Grumman Ship Systems wing, including a possible spinoff company.
Cleveland Ship hasn't said what it would be willing to pay for the military shipbuilding division, and Northrop Grumman has declined comment.
The letters cover Northrop Grumman yards at Avondale, Pascagoula and Newport News, Va.
In the letter to Jindal, Cleveland Ship said it is committed to a full-scale commercial and naval shipyard at Avondale, employing about 5,000 people. The company said it is seeking federal authorization to build ships for the Navy called fleet oilers, which transport fuel and freight to ships at sea.
Cleveland Ship also said it has been contacted by a wind energy company about partnering in the production of offshore wind energy platforms that could be built at Avondale.
Avondale is building two ships in the Navy's series of amphibious assault vessels. Northrop Grumman said it will close the yard once work is complete.
In the letter to Barbour, Cleveland Ship said the priority would be to finish contract negotiations for about $5 billion of work for the Navy and Coast Guard at the Pascagoula yard.
The company told McDonnell that it does not foresee "any significant changes" at the Newport News yard.
"Our strategic intent is to own these shipyards `for the long term' and not to resell them in a relatively short time," the letters stated.
Jindal's office didn't respond to calls for comment. Barbour's spokeswoman, Laura Hipp, said Cleveland Ship officials met with the Mississippi Development Authority on Tuesday. McDonnell's office
did not return a call Friday for comment.