Gulf Coast shipyards prepare for Isaac

Isaac coneAUGUST 27, 2012 — As Tropical Storm Isaac was predicted to become a hurricane, U.S. Gulf Coast state governors declared emergencies and shipyards in the likely path of the storm took emergency measures and announced closings.

Among shipyards telling most workers to stay home, Huntington Ingalls Industries' Ingalls Shipbulding closed its Pascagoula and Avondale shipyards today, beginning with the second shift, and said they would remain closed Tuesday and Wednesday. The shipbuilder's Gulfport Composite Center of Excellence was also closed today with plans to remain closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Unless otherwise notified by supervision, all employees are expected to follow any local evacuation plans. Employees should monitor the Ingalls Shipbuilding Information Line at 1-877-871-2058 and local media outlets for updates," said a posting on the Ingalls web site.

The Mobile, Alabama, Press-Register reports that Austal USA is closing its shipyard but a skeleton crew will stay at the facility during the storm, including a crew on board each of the two ships moored at the shipyard.

"We are going to have a crew on board the ships as long as conditions warrant to make sure the ships are secure," a spokesman is quoted as saying. "We have a mooring plan we've screened with the Navy and we will be keeping the ships where they are."

The Press-Register reports that Bayou La Batre, Alabama's Horizon Shipbuilding is stopping production until Isaac has passed.

Company spokesperson Nancy Buckalew told the newspaper that some essential personnel will get a phone call to come in, but most employees will be left to prepare for the storm.

"We're battening down the hatches and getting everything secured," she said. "We have a hurricane plan and we're putting that in effect. We just wanted to prevent as much as possible people getting out in heavy weather."

Other Gulf Coast shipyards have similar plans. Many suffered extensive damage in previous storms, most notably Hurricane Katrina, and those memories are still all too recent.

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