Westwego, Louisiana is the site of the Avondale Shipyard, once the largest private employer in Louisiana with 6,000 employees. Three men founded it in 1938, just up river from New Orleans on the west bank of the Mississippi river. The shipyard began its journey through various other owners starting in 1959. These included Ogden Corporation, Litton Industries, Northrop Grumman, and finally Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) in 2011. In August of 2015, HII announced the Avondale Shipyard would be placed for sale.
Over the years, the Avondale facility built barges, cargo ships, even an icebreaker and research vessel for the US Coast Guard. They modernized the USS Iowa and also repaired ships for the US Navy. Shipyard workers and other trades employed at the Avondale Shipyard in the 1950s through the 1970s have brought asbestos personal injury lawsuits against the shipyard for the development of asbestos-related diseases. Older ships were notorious for their use of asbestos and often workers – even US Navy sailors – were unaware of the dangers including lung cancer and mesothelioma, a fatal asbestos disease.
At this time, the shipyard is deserted except for a very small maintenance crew and has not found a new owner.