Port looking at former Avondale Shipyard as possible breakbulk terminal _lowres

The idle Huntington Ingalls Industries Avondale shipyard has a buyer, but few details are being divulged. Business and economic leaders lauded the news, hoping the West Bank facility can fill the void left by what was once Louisiana's largest private employer.

ADVOCATE STAFF FILE PHOTO

Shipbuilding has been an integral part of industry in the region since 1819 when the New Orleans City Council banned the activity from east bank shores. That same year Andre Seguin established a boatyard in Algiers Point. Other ship builders and repair operations followed, and by 1850 Algiers Point had eight different shipbuilders and 11 dry docks.

Some of those facilities were burned by the Confederate army in 1862 before Union forces took the city. But shipyards came back with a focus on metal ships by turn of the century. Todd Shipyards was one of the largest, opening operations in 1925.

In 1938, Avondale Marine Ways was founded upriver near Bridge City. The company received a contract to build tugboats during World War II and the company expanded, becoming Avondale Shipyards in 1960. At its peak, with millions in contracts from the U.S. Navy, Avondale employed 26,000 workers. The company was bought by Northrup Grumman and operations were later moved to Mississippi in 2013.