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, about 20 miles (32 km) upriver from New Orleans 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 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.
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, it became a publicly traded company, Avondale Industries, Inc. Workers voted to unionize with the New Orleans Metal Trades Council in 1993, leading to a lengthy and arduous legal battle between the workers and Avondale Industries. The Metal Trades Union eventually succeeded in 2000. The publication Bayou Worker, archived at Loyola University New Orleans, contains information related to the labor organizing efforts.
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 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.
Ships built by Avondale include:
- APL C-9-class container vessels (1980-1983), originally President Monroe, President Washington, and President Lincoln. These are now operated by Matson Navigation Company as M/V Manoa, Mahimahi, and Mokihana, respectively.
- MARAD Design C9-S-81d and C8-S-81d class (LASH-ships)
- USCGC Healy United States Coast Guard (USCG) icebreaker and research vessel (1999)
- San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks (6 out of 9 ships, 2000–present) including USS New York built with steel from the World Trade Center towers destroyed in the 9/11 attacks and USS Somerset built with steel from a crane that stood near Flight 93's crash site also destroyed on 9/11.
- Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ships (4 out of 4 ships, 1991–97)
- Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships (5 last of 8 ships, 1986–90)
- SS Velma Lykes, now TS Kennedy, training ship for Massachusetts Maritime Academy
- Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oilers (14 out of 16 ships, 1984–96)
- Bob Hope-class vehicle cargo ship (7 ships build between 1993-2001)
- Hamilton-class USCG high-endurance cutters (12 out of 12 ships, 1967–72)
- Knox-class frigates (27 out of 46 ships, 1967–74)
- USCGC Greenbrier - USCG river tender
- Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center, a New York City prison ship (1992)
- University of New Orleans Library - Avondale Shipyards Collection
- "Avondale Shipyards Collection". University of New Orleans. February 2008. Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
- Greenhouse, Steven (1998-07-10). "5 Years After Workers' Vote, Shipyard Holds Off a Union". New York Times. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
- Lipinski, Jed (2014-01-03). "Former Avondale Shipyard workers remember the heyday of the business". Times-Picayune. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
- "New Orleans Social Justice and Activism 1980s-1990s Collection Finding Aid" (PDF). Special Collections & Archives, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
- "Avondale wins Navy shipbuilding contracts worth $454.7 million"
- "Huntington Ingalls to turn Avondale shipyard into a builder of oil and gas equipment". The Daily Press. Archived from the original on 8 April 2013.
- "USS Somerset Commissioned as Flight 93 Tribute". ABC News. 1 March 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
- Raab, Selwyn (27 January 1999). "Bronx Jail Barge to Open, Though the Cost Is Steep". New York Times. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
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