Project America Update

January 11, 2002
Remember those two half-completed ships languishing in a Mississippi shipyard -- the first newbuilds in an era to be constructed for Hawaii-based sailings -- since the demise of American Classic Voyages? Well, Northrup Grumman Corp., the shipbuilder, this week suggested to the Navy that it buy at least one of ‘em and convert it to military use. The construction of the two Project America ships was behind schedule at the time American Classic Voyages pulled the plug. What's interesting if not also ironic is that one of the reasons the ships’ construction had been delayed, according to former American Classic Voyages honcho Rod McLeod, was that Northrop Grumman, a long established warship builder, had never constructed a pleasure-oriented vessel. “They've found it very difficult,” McLeod said in a pre-September 11, pre-bankruptcy interview last summer. “Part of that is gearing themselves from a focus on military work to commercial work, ranging from fixed price contracts to steel processing thinner than required than US naval vessels. We don't expect to be hit by torpedoes so don't need big thick steel hulls.” In these tempestuous times, the US Navy may want to heed McLeod’s last comment before plunking down a deposit.