Defense cuts could affect Ingalls

The Department of Defense’s proposed cost-cutting measures could have major implications for military shipbuilding in South Mississippi and other parts of the country, as some new vessels could be shelved, scrapped or delayed over the next decade.

A few broad details that cover the first five years of a 10-year cost reduction plan were released Thursday by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other officials, but more information is expected on Feb. 13, when President Obama sends his full budget proposal to Congress. The defense cuts could meet strong resistance and could lead to an election-year showdown with Congressional Republicans.

The proposal released last week calls for a one year delay in the start of construction on a LHA large-deck amphibious vessel, which is to be built by Huntington Ingalls in Pascagoula. The proposal also calls for proceeding with the Navy’s plans to buy more Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyers from Huntington Ingalls and General Dynamics. Pascagoula shipyard officials declined to comment on how the plans could affect the shipyard’s future, calling the announcements made last week the “first step in a long and complex process.”

Sun Herald