History

Looking Back on Avondale Shipyard

Avondale Shipyard was an independent shipbuilding company, acquired by Litton Industries, in turn acquired by Northrop Grumman Corporation. In 2011, along with the former Ingalls Shipbuilding, the yard was part of Huntington Ingalls Industries. It closed in October 2014. The yard was located on the west bank of the Mississippi River in an area called Bridge City, approximately 20 miles upriver from New Orleans, Louisiana near Westwego, Louisiana.

It was the site of the modernization of the battleship USS Iowa in the early 1980s and also constructed some of the lighter aboard ships (LASH). At one time, it was the largest employer in the state of Louisiana with about 26,000 employees.

Avondale Shipyards was founded in 1938 as Avondale Marine Ways by James Grinstead Viavant, Harry Koch, and Perry N. Ellis. It was primarily a repair and barge construction facility for craft working the Mississippi River. In 1941, the company employed only 200 workers.

They were awarded a contract to build tugboats for the United States Maritime Commission during World War II. This led to further contracts to build destroyers and destroyer escorts.

After World War II, Avondale took advantage of the expansion of the oil industry in Louisiana to build drilling barges and offshore oil rigs. They also built other commercial vessels such as fishing boats. They again obtained government contracts to build military vessels during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Avondale Marine Ways was purchased by the Ogden Corporation in 1959 for $14 million. The following year it was renamed Avondale Shipyards, Inc. The company was sold to its employees in 1985. In 1988 became a publicly traded company, Avondale Industries, Inc.

In 1998 the company won contracts worth $454.7 million for the construction of two ships by the U.S. Navy (a landing platform dock ship and the Navy’s newest amphibious assault ship).

In mid-2010, Northrop Grumman announced its intention to close the Avondale yard by 2013 and consolidate its Gulf coast shipbuilding operations at its Pascagoula, Mississippi yard. Northrop Grumman did a Spin off of (NGSB) Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding to Huntington Ingalls Inc. effective as of March 31, 2011. The Avondale yard became the Huntington Ingalls Industries Avondale Operation, a subsidiary of Huntington Ingalls Inc. In February 2013 Avondale Plant was reorganized and entered sector of oil and gas production equipment.

The USS Somerset was recorded as the last Navy ship to depart from the Avondale Ship Yard, on 3 February 2014.

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The West Bank Beacon

The West Bank Beacon is a local monthly publication with a mailed circulation of over 15,000 and thousands more distributed at points from Gretna to Grand Isle, the Beacon tells the story of a thriving community. A “good news” newspaper, our mission is to make readers aware of how both individuals and groups are making a positive difference in the neighborhoods where they live. This includes a focus on civic and city initiatives, volunteer efforts, and charity fundraisers, to name just a few examples.

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