GULFPORT, Miss., June 9, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) today broke ground on a $64 million modernization project at its Ship Systems sector's Gulfport Operations, which will create the first large-scale advanced composite manufacturing facility to produce U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard ships.
The modernization will dedicate $30 million to increasing capacity for composite construction, $19 million for ship construction and outfitting improvements, $8 million for additional support facilities, and $7 million to upgrade distributive systems.
Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, principal speaker at the ceremony, told more than 200 guests and shipbuilders in attendance about the partnership between Northrop Grumman and the state and how this expansion project will economically benefit all parties involved.
"We're turning dirt here today and the economic impact will have a ripple effect throughout the state of Mississippi," said Musgrove. "On April 10, I signed Senate Bill 2886 into law, to seal our commitment to Northrop Grumman's expansion in Mississippi. We also made good on our pledge that we would bring higher paying and higher quality jobs to the people of Mississippi. We thank Northrop Grumman for investing their faith and confidence in us, as we have invested our faith and confidence in them. We believe the people of Mississippi will be better off as a result."
Northrop Grumman Ship Systems is one of the leading designers of an all-composite Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) for the Navy. The company is bidding to become the sole manufacturer of this 21st century ship at its Gulfport Operations, which the company has designated its Composite Manufacturing Center of Excellence.
"Composite technology is revolutionizing the shipbuilding industry," said Dr. Philip A. Dur, Northrop Grumman corporate vice president and president of the Ship Systems sector. "Composite materials are stiffer and stronger by weight than steel and aluminum counterparts, and result in a lighter weight ship that will save the Navy thousands of gallons of fuel.
"This facility creates a future for shipbuilding on the Mississippi Gulf Coast," Dur continued. "We're creating industry advantage and staying more than one step ahead of our competition. And we're creating opportunity - for employment, greater job security, a more certain future, and a direct road that will bring all of us even further out onto the cutting edge of shipbuilding technology."
Musgrove and the Mississippi Legislature were instrumental in securing a $48 million bond issue to complement Northrop Grumman's capital investment for Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula and the Gulfport facility.
"The facilities here are the first phase of a project for Gulfport Operations designed not only to increase output in composites, but also to vastly improve the quality of service for the dedicated shipbuilders gathered here today," said John B. (Jay) Foley III, vice president of Ship Systems' Gulfport Operations. "This mission we are undertaking required countless hours of planning, meeting and negotiating and without the leadership of the governor's office, the legislature, the Mississippi Development Authority and other organizations, this project would never have gotten started. We thank you all for your commitment to this vision and partnership."
Since becoming a part of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in 2001, Gulfport Operations has become one of the premier composite manufacturing operations in the nation, contributing to such Ship Systems programs as the LPD, DD(X), USCG Deepwater, Composite Hi-Speed Vessel, and future surface combatants, as well as the LCS program.
Gulfport is focusing on construction of the revolutionary Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor masts for the San Antonio (LPD 17)-class of amphibious transport dock ships under construction at Ship Systems' operations in New Orleans, La., and Pascagoula, Miss. These masts are the largest composite structures ever installed on a U.S. Navy ship.
Northrop Grumman's Ship Systems sector includes primary operations in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss.; New Orleans and Tallulah, La.; as well as a network of fleet support offices in the U.S. and Japan. The sector, which currently employs more than 18,000 shipbuilding professionals, primarily in Mississippi and Louisiana, is one of the nation's leading full service systems companies for the design, engineering, construction, and life cycle support of major surface ships for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and international navies, and for commercial vessels of all types.
LEARN MORE ABOUT US: Northrop Grumman news releases, product information, photos and video clips are available on the Internet at www.northropgrumman.com . Information specific to Ship Systems is available at: www.ss.northropgrumman.com/index.html
CONTACT: Jim McIngvale Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (228) 935-3971