PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — One of Mississippi's largest employers, a shipyard that builds vessels for the Navy and Coast Guard, announced Thursday that it is rebuilding and reopening part of its operation that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Virginia-based Huntington Ingalls Industries said Ingalls Shipbuilding is reconstructing a shipyard in Pascagoula over the next two years.
The yard on the east bank of the Pascagoula River was swamped by Hurricane Katrina's storm surge, leading to the relocation of all work to Ingalls' larger yard on the river's west bank.
Spokesman Bill Glenn said it's too early to say how much Ingalls will spend, or whether the company to add to its 11,500 employees. A significant minority of those employees live in southwest Alabama.
Ingalls has made a multiyear $700 million overhaul of its west bank yard, which it leases from the state of Mississippi. The state has pledged $200 million. Lawmakers have borrowed and allotted to Ingalls all but $45 million of the state's commitment.
Glenn was unable to say whether Ingalls would seek state aid for work on the east bank property, which was the original shipyard location beginning in 1938 and is owned by the company.
The company said it will build large, covered areas on the east bank to construct parts of ships, and restore a pier where employees can work on ships. Ingalls says the project is part of its continuing modernization effort.
"We are excited to be bringing the east bank back to life," Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias said in a statement. "As we prepare to celebrate our 80th anniversary, what better way to do that than to announce that the original Ingalls facility will become a productive, vibrant part of the Pascagoula landscape once again."
Cuccias announced the reconstruction at a meeting of Jackson County business leaders.