Northrop Grumman Ship Systems has bounced back to about 90 percent of its pre-Katrina capacity, after the hurricane smashed Mississippi's largest industrial employer.
   The company's quarterly finance report notes $850 million in losses at its facilities in Pascagoula, Gulfport and New Orleans.
   Employment at Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula is about 10,000, down from almost 12,000 a few months before Katrina hit Aug. 29.
   "We're hiring at all three yards to meet different craft needs, especially electricians and pipefitters," said Brian Cullin, NGSS director of communications. "We're also hiring engineers."
   In addition to 250 workers at the Gulfport yard, NGSS has 7,000 employees at its Avondale yard in New Orleans.
   "Our employees have been extraordinary," said Cullin. "So many got back to work even though they were still trying to put their lives and homes back together at the time.
   "We were able to deliver two ships in January and this summer we'll christen LHD 8 (its eighth multi-purpose amphibious assault ship in that class). We still have 13 ships either under construction or in design."
   Katrina's 10-foot surge caused damage throughout the production yard as well as other facilities. The computer center and human resource buildings were destroyed and 200 vehicles were lost.
   Cullin said Northrop Grumman lost 8 million workforce hours because of Katrina.
"The Navy realizes what a massive disruption it has been," he added. "This is the costs (from delays) that we face as we contract for the future and continue the work today."