Rolls-Royce North America Inc. plans to cease melting and casting specialty alloy and stainless steel at its foundry in Pascagoula, MS, though a gantry machining center for the large-dimension castings produced there for fixed-pitch marine propellers will remain in operation.

Best known as a designer and manufacturer of turbine engines for aircraft and industrial gas power generation, Rolls-Royce plc also produces power-generation systems marine vessels, nuclear energy, and oil-and-gas infrastructure (offshore platforms, pipelines.) In the U.S. it has several subsidiaries concentrating on defense manufacturing programs.

The Mississippi foundry casts a nickel-aluminum-manganese-bronze alloy into fixed-pitch propellers up to 26 feet in diameter.

The plant also casts stainless-steel propellers, waterjets, and impellers.

It is said to be the only privately owned, domestic foundry capable of casting and finishing large fixed-pitch propellers to U.S. Navy quality standards.

The approximately 60,000-sq.ft. plant was purchased by Rolls-Royce in 1999, and has received numerous manufacturing and maintenance contracts from the U.S. Departments of Defense (U.S. Army, Navy) and Homeland Security (U.S. Coast Guard) for ship, boar, and submarine propulsion components.

In 2004, the plant was expanded by 19,000-sq.ft. with the addition of gantry milling machine for large propellers. In 2012 a vertical turning machine was added, used to shape finished dimensions of large metal parts.

The closing will take place within the next 18 months, affecting 24 among 47 workers there.

Joel P. Reuter, v.p. -Communications and Marketing Services for Rolls-Royce North America, described the decision as a restructuring in response to changes in the defense manufacturing market. He noted that the machining operations at Pascagoula would continue, working with castings supplied by Rolls-Royce foundries in Canada and Spain.