Navy Cutbacks Force Huntington Ingalls to Close Gulfport Composites Facility

Rollout of the 900-ton composite deckhouse for the destroyer Zumwalt (DDG 1000) at HII's Gulfport facility. The deckhouse was delivered to the U.S. Navy in October 2012. Photo credit: HII
Rollout of the 900-ton composite deckhouse for the destroyer Zumwalt (DDG 1000) at HII’s Gulfport facility. The deckhouse was delivered to the U.S. Navy in October 2012. Photo credit: HII

Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) announced Wednesday that it will be closing its Gulfport, Mississippi facility as a result of cutbacks in U.S. Navy shipbuilding, particularly that of the Zumwalt-class destroyers.

HII says the closure of the facility, known as the Gulfport Composite Center of Excellence, is expected by May 2014 when the current work being performed there is completed.

“This is a difficult but necessary decision,” said HII President and CEO Mike Petters. “Due to the reduction in the Zumwalt-class (DDG 1000) ship construction and the recent U.S. Navy decision to use steel products on Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002), there is both limited and declining Navy use for composite products from the Gulfport Facility.”

The 120-acre Gulfport facility is is home to the world’s largest numerically controlled, five-axis saw capable of sawing, drilling and milling very large composite components with extreme accuracy.  It has specialized in composite shipbuilding in support U.S. Navy programs since 2001 when it started building the composite masts for the LPD 17 San Antonio class of amphibious warships.  As the sole source of this sort of shipbuilding technology, it was also highly expensive.

“Ingalls Shipbuilding continues to perform well in building the composite products for the Zumwalt-class (DDG 1000) program and has demonstrated considerable learning curve improvements,” said Irwin F. Edenzon, HII corporate vice president and president of Ingalls Shipbuilding. “We are working closely with our Navy customer to efficiently complete our composite work on Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) and the mast of Portland (LPD 27) by the end of the first quarter 2014.”

HII said it expects the closure to impact 427 employees either through headcount reductions or transfers.