Located on the east bank of the mouth where the Pascagoula River enters into the Gulf of Mexico, Ingalls Shipbuilding is, at over 10,000 workers, the largest private employer in the state of Mississippi. Currently owned by Northrop Grumman, the shipyard was founded in 1938 by Robert Ingalls and acquired by Litton Industries in 1961. Though initially dedicated to the construction of commercial ships, the yard began producing Liberty and Victory type vessels for the Merchant Marines during the Second World War and started to bid on dedicated Naval contracts in the post-war period. In 1957 its role supplying the Navy was greatly expanded when it won its first bid to construct what would later become a total of 12 nuclear-powered submarines.
Though now a major component of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, which acquired Litton in 2001, and primarily a supplier of naval vessels, Ingalls has also constructed cruise ships, offshore drilling platforms and rigs and, at times, locomotives and rolling stock for the railroad industry. Though the yard’s foray into the production of diesel-electric locomotives in the 1950s was short-lived, it did manage to produce over 4,000 covered hopper cars, intended for lease to railroads, throughout the 1980s. In addition to its work for the U.S. Navy, the yard has also completed naval contracts for Israel, Venezuela, and Egypt.
Ingalls is best known for the numerous warships it has completed for the U.S. Navy. Among these have been 31 Spruance, 4 Kidd, and 28 Arleigh Burke class destroyers, with production of the later still continuing. The yard has also produced 18 cruisers of the Ticonderoga class as well as numerous amphibious assault ships, including one Iwo Jima, five Tarawa, eight Wasp, and one America class, with the America class still in production. The yard has also produced submarines of the Barbell, Skipjack, Thresher, and Sturgeon classes.
Notable individual vessels constructed by the yard have been the USS Ticonderoga, which featured the first AEGIS fire control system to be incorporated into a combat ship, and the USS Princeton, which, in 1990, was the first American naval vessel to visit a Soviet port in over five decades.Though damaged during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the yard’s capabilities have largely been restored. It continues to produce ships and offshore oil rigs.