Bay Shipbuilding secures contract for 2 vessels

Bay Shipbuilding Co., part of Fincantieri Marine Group, announced Monday, March 21 that it sealed a contract to build two new vessels in Sturgeon Bay by 2013.

Two platform supply vessels or PSVs — the first to be built on the Great Lakes or in Sturgeon Bay — will be built for Tidewater Marine, based in New Orleans. Tidewater Inc. provides marine support services for the offshore energy industry, serving customers that operate in more remote, deeper and increasingly hostile environments, according to a Fincantieri news release.

The new contract comes on the heels of Marinette Marine, Bay Shipbuilding’s sister company, securing a large U.S. Navy contract for 10 littoral combat ships. Many of the parts for those vessels will be fabricated in Sturgeon Bay and floated across the bay of Green Bay to Marinette.

Bay Shipbuilding vice president and general manager Gene Caldwell said it was hard to express how excited the company is about the news.

“We have a whole lot of pride to work at Bay Ship,” Caldwell said. “We love our repair customers, but to build ships at Bay Ship — that’s what it’s all about.”

Crews are finishing repair work on the winter fleet, and as those last ships sail out of Sturgeon Bay’s canal, about 150 workers will receive a temporary layoff.

A core of workers will remain, and by late June or July, fabrication will begin on the first PSV, Caldwell said. About 200 workers at peak — almost everybody previously laid off — will be called back.

“It takes about 14 weeks for the steel to come in, and we will work all the way through delivery,” he said. “It will keep us employed.”

Bay Shipbuilding is Door County’s largest employer with a current permanent work force of 568 employees, according to its human resources department. Of those, 501 are union employees and 67 are office personnel.

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