Five thousand employees will lose their jobs by the time the Avondale Shipyard closes in 2013; the state estimates that another 7,000 positions are indirectly supported by the plant.
The news couldn't have come at a worse time for Louisiana.
"The year started so bright, with the New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl and the feeling that the New Orleans area had moved beyond its post-Katrina nightmare to the cusp of a better future," The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune wrote .
"But now, with the oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, the ban on oil exploration, the last space shuttle external fuel tank rolling off the assembly line at Michoud Assembly Center, layoffs at University of New Orleans, and on Tuesday, the Avondale Shipyard announcing that it would cease production by 2013, eliminating 5,000 well-paying jobs," the paper said, "the outlook for the New Orleans area economy suddenly feels grim."
Governor Bobby Jindal and the state's congressional delegation are urging Northrop Grumman officials to reconsider their move, which, company officials say, was driven by a decline in the number of vessels being ordered by the federal government. If it proceeds, the plant's closure would represent one of the largest mass layoffs by a single employer in decades in Louisiana.