MARINETTE - A major area employer is bringing laid off workers back sooner than expected. Marinette Marine says work is going faster than originally thought.
It may be a bit difficult to put in perspective, but the beginning of the Research Vessel Sikuliaq, a 261-foot ship to be operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is beginning to take shape.
Its research will be focused on climate change, and what makes this ship special is its ability go to through ice, and it's being produced by Marinette Marine.
"Clearly they had the expertise," said Chancellor Brian Rogers, University of Alaska Fairbanks. "This was put out to competitive bid. They won over other proposals based on the quality of their work, based on the price of the work, based on their experience with ice-strengthened vessels."
Late last year Marinette Marine landed a contract for 10 littoral combat ships (LCS) with the Navy, a contract that will sustain and grow the workforce.
But aside from the LCS the company is working on other projects like the Sikuliaq, as well as response boats for the US Coast Guard.
"We have probably the widest range of products of any shipbuilder in the US," said Richard McCreary, president & CEO, Marinette Marine.
That allows the company to attract new business and new workers. However, after a delay in the LCS contracts in December the company laid off close to 200 employees and though initially McCreary estimated they would not be back to full staff until June, they will all be back soon.
"Now that we're building on the Sikuliaq, the Alaska vessel, and building on LCS, we're actually recalling the last 88 people that we still have on layoff over the course of the next two weeks," said McCreary.
It's a workforce that continues to grow, with a corporation that builds on its reputation, and continues to seek out new work.
The company has already hired an addition 100 people since the beginning of the year. The CEO says in about four months the company will likely start to hire in production.
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