WASHINGTON Aug 28 U.S. shipbuilder Huntington
Ingalls Industries Inc has closed all three of its U.S.
Gulf Coast shipyards in Mississippi and Louisiana as the region
braces for Hurricane Isaac, a massive storm that is expected to
make landfall early Wednesday.
Huntington Ingalls, which was spun off from defense
contractor Northrop Grumman Corp last year, suffered an
estimated $1 billion of losses and damage when Hurricane Katrina
devastated the region seven years ago.
The company plans to keep the shipyards closed Wednesday,
said spokeswoman Beci Brenton, adding that the company would
reassess the situation after the storm passed.
Thousands of people were leaving New Orleans on Tuesday
despite the lack of mandatory evacuation orders. Many remain
haunted by the memory of Hurricane Katrina, which breached
protective levees and flooded 80 percent of the city in 2005,
killing 1,800 people and stranding thousands of others without
food and water.
Huntington Ingalls has 2,600 employees at its 268-acre
Avondale shipyard outside New Orleans, 900 people at its
120-acre shipyard in Gulfport, Mississippi, and about 9,000
workers at its 800-acre Pascagoula, Mississippi facility,
She said workers spent Monday securing loose equipment,
boarding up windows, securing and locking heavy cranes and
making other storm preparations before all three facilities
closed at 2 p.m. Central time.
"We have extensive checklists at all our facilities for bad
weather and they're following those meticulously," Brenton said.
Small watch teams remained on board all the U.S. Navy and
Coast Guard ships that are already in the water at the Avondale
and Pascagoula shipyards, Brenton said.
The company is building two LPD amphibious assault ships at
the Avondale shipyard, while 6 ships -- including one destroyer
and three amphibious assault ships -- are under construction at
the Pascagoula shipyard.
Brenton said many security measures had been implemented
since Hurricane Katrina, including putting generators on raised
platforms in case of flooding.