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Northrop announces possible changes to shipbuilding operations

In a letter to employees at both major Northrop Grumman shipyards this morning, the vice president of shipbuilding announced the name that would be used if the company spins off its shipbuilding operations into a separate, publically-owned entity.

The name would be Huntington Ingalls Industries. And a retired admiral would be chairman of the board.

Mike Petters issued the letter to 10,000 employees at the Ingalls yard in Pascagoula and 19,900 at the Newport-News yard in Virginia.

What Northrop Grumman did today was file an amendment to a document it filed with the SEC in October, taking a step further the process of spinning the shipyards into their own business.

A spokeswoman for the company said this morning that spinning off the shipbuilding division still isn't a done deal and that Northrop Grumman “is still feeling it out and exploring the options.” Selling the shipbuilding division also has been considered an option.

In his letter, Petters said the Huntington Ingalls name builds upon the strong legacies of our shipbuilding divisions.

"Collis P. Huntington founded Newport News Shipbuilding in 1886 and the Huntington family played prominent roles in the shipyard business in Newport News for more than 50 years," he said. " Ingalls Shipbuilding was established in 1938 by the Ingalls Iron Works of Birmingham, Alabama, a company founded by the Ingalls family with Robert I. Ingalls Sr. at the helm.

"I believe the Huntington Ingalls Industries name, by highlighting the legacies of our shipbuilding businesses that stretch back nearly 125 years, provides us the right foundation upon which to build our future as an independent, publicly-traded company.

Petters said, Thomas B. Fargo, retired admiral, was selected to be chairman of the board and called it an thoughtful choice.

"Tom Fargo knows our business and our customers very well, and his insight, knowledge and perspective will be of great value as we build this 'new' business," Petters said. " A current member of the Northrop Grumman Corporation Board of Directors, he served as commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, leading the largest unified command while directing the joint operations of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force from May 2002 until his retirement in March 2005."

Read more about this story in Thursday's Sun Herald.