New Owners to Redevelop Former Avondale Shipyard Site Into Logistics Hub

Historic Avondale Shipyard
File photo shows the former Avondale Shipyard site. Photo: Louisiana Economic Development

Huntington Ingalls Industries has announced the closing of the sale of the former Avondale Shipyards site to Avondale Marine, a joint venture between T. Parker Host and Hilco Redevelopment Partners, which has to redevelop the New Orleans-area property into a global logistics hub.

The Avondale facility, part of HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division, ceased its Navy shipbuilding operations in December 2014, leaving the future of the historic site up in the air.

Avondale Marine is expected to redevelop the site’s crane, dock and terminal assets along nearly 8,000 feet of Mississippi River frontage, while connecting global waterborne commerce with manufacturing, fabrication and distribution facilities onshore. Capturing connections to six Class I rail carriers in the New Orleans area, the new owners envision creating a world-scale logistics hub at the former shipyard.

“For more than 75 years, tens of thousands of workers from Jefferson Parish, New Orleans and surrounding parishes built vessels at Avondale that preserved our freedom in times of war and invigorated our economy in times of peace,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. “We know that golden age of shipbuilding will not return to Avondale. But after many months of discussion, we have secured a visionary private-sector partner to create a new path for growth at Avondale. This purchase represents a great opportunity to bring new investment, jobs and prosperity back to Avondale, with a sharp focus on attracting logistics and manufacturing leaders in the global economy.”

T. Parker Host is one of the nation’s largest terminal operators and a leader in the maritime industry, specializing in agency, terminal operations and marine assets.

Hilco Redevelopment Partners is known for repurposing large-scale industrial properties across North America. The company identified Avondale as a potential redevelopment site several years ago and began working to assemble an acquisition strategy.

Once Louisiana’s largest private employer, the shipyard still employed 7,500 people at the beginning of the 1980s prior to the U.S. government ending its subsidy of commercial shipbuilding. Avondale turned to chiefly defense-related shipbuilding, a business that also began dwindling in the 1990s as the U.S. Navy reduced its fleet size following the end of the Cold War. Northrop Grumman, which acquired Avondale through a 2000 purchase of Litton Industries, spun off its shipbuilding business as Huntington Ingalls Industries in 2011 after announcing plans to consolidate its shipbuilding business on the Gulf Coast. That led to the closure of Avondale Shipyards in 2014.

Even after the sale, HII will continue to operate an Avondale engineering office that employs 350 people at the University of New Orleans Maritime Technology Center of Excellence. That building will remain a state asset and was not included in the property conveyed to Avondale Marine LLC.