In Press: Talking Huntington Ingalls in the Mississippi Press

by Craig Hooper on April 9, 2011

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to chat and email with the Mississippi Press’ Kaija Wilkinson, to discuss the future of the Huntington Ingalls’ yard. I think that yard has its work cut out for it.

Craig Hooper, a San Francisco defense consultant who runs the website, said there are advantages to the split from Northrop – particularly the chance to focus more on building high-quality ships – but “Huntington Ingalls has its work cut out for it.”

In an email response to questions about the spinoff, sent last month, Hooper noted that the company has to worry about debt, strong competition from other shipbuilders and the possibility that its “signature products,” – large-scale amphibious assault vessels – may fall out of favor with the Navy.

“So while the immediate future for Ingalls looks rosy, there are storm clouds looming on the horizon,” Hooper’s email said.

Yes there are. There are a lot of hungry shipbuilders out there who would give an enormous amount to enjoy the “kid gloves” treatment the government has accorded this shipyard since Katrina. But that time is over, and the shipyard’s primary customer–the U.S. government–is set to become far less tolerant of failure.

There’s also that pesky DC-based undercurrent that big amphibs are “irrelevant” and should be cut from the inventory. If I were Huntington Ingalls, I’d be doing just about anything to urge that LPD-17s be given a chance to get out to sea and and prove themselves.

And, well, there’s quality. Put bluntly, the failure of a poorly-welded mast on a newly-delivered Ingalls-built DDG does a disservice to the entire national shipbuilding community. So, with that, we will eagerly watch the new Huntington Ingalls Industry management, and see if they can pull off a shipbuilding Cinderella story! Best of luck to HII, and I hope their yards pick up their game and get healthy soon. It’ll do everybody good.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

leesea April 9, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I would say the LPD17 represents a too expensive, exquisite system and the last two should be cut from the SCN budget. Those funds should be used to buy four or six ampibs of an existing design (most likely foreign). The Navy can compete that series and we will see who wins?

Further it makes NO sense to base the LSD(X) on LPD17 because that design is too big, too costly and their are better designs already in service with other navies.

Of course, theUS Navy’s problem with NIH, and the congressional critters with backyard shipyards may be too hard for current naval leaders to overcome?


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