A Breakthrough in Negotiations with the U.S. Navy

September 17, 2010

By Congressman Joseph Cao

I write today with good news about the future of jobs at Avondale Shipyard.

As you may know, I have been working hard to keep well-paying jobs at Avondale since Northrop Grumman announced in July of this year that they would be closing down operations in 2013. This would have been a huge blow for the thousands of hardworking Louisianans whose jobs hung in the balance, so I took the fight right to President Obama and to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

On September 16, 2010, Secretary Mabus told me that he took me very seriously when I said that I wanted the Navy to do what it could to keep these jobs. He also said that it was because of my efforts on behalf of southeastern Louisianans that he, as he put it, “reached far into his bag of tricks” to help us keep jobs at Avondale beyond when operations are scheduled to cease.

I am happy to report that the Navy will require Northrop Grumman to finish work on two LPD ships at Avondale Shipyard before it ceases operations there and that the Navy will also move the start of its program for building double-hulled oil tankers up from 2017 to 2014. This could mean a huge amount of work at Avondale even after Northrop Grumman leaves.

In addition, Secretary Mabus told me that, to increase Avondale’s attractiveness to potential buyers, the Navy will invest $6 million into three local Louisiana shipyards to increase their capacity and $10 million of Katrina rebuilding and recovery funds into Delgado Community College and the University of New Orleans to continue their apprenticeship and marine programs, providing a steady source of skilled workers for a potential buyer of Avondale.

Secretary Mabus said that, since I brought this to him, he has been working on the future of Avondale, and I know I have a fine partner in the Secretary. We both agree that keeping these jobs in Louisiana is in the Navy’s best interest, in Northrop Grumman’s best interest, and in Louisiana’s best interest. Delivering this news is one of my proudest moments in Congress, and rest assured that I will hold the Navy to their promises.

This is just one of the ways in which I am supporting our recovery, including protecting our communities from crime, improving educational opportunities for our children, building and maintaining affordable housing, reinforcing our levees, restoring our coast, promoting economic development, and holding the federal government accountable. The stakes are very high, and I promise to work with you and with my colleagues in Congress, the Administration, and state and local officials to best represent Jefferson and Orleans Parishes.

Together, we are making the difference that will bring a lasting improvement to our communities. As always, it is an honor to serve as your representative to Congress.

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