MARINETTE - "Three, two, one."
With just a simple countdown from Marinette Marine president Chuck Goddard, the ribbon was cut on the final piece of parent company Fincantieri Marine Group's $73.4 million investment.
The Grand Module Construction facility – normally host to sections of large ships being welded together – shared room with elected officials, the military, company employees and members of the media Monday morning for the dedication ceremony.
The shipyard expansion is the culmination of a lot of time and effort to cut down the time and effort it takes Marinette Marine to build state-of-the-art ships; according Fincantieri officials, specifically, the Littoral Combat Ships for the US Navy.
"We are able to deliver this larger, lower-cost ship, on time and on budget because of the investments made, technologies inserted and skills of the workforce," said Francesco Valente, Fincantieri Marine Group president and CEO.
Marinette Marine is expected to deliver two LCS ships a year under a multi-billion dollar contract awarded in 2010. That same year, the company started its expansion, which includes five new buildings. Company leaders say the improvements can increase production by 100 percent.
"We can now do production work, regardless of outside weather conditions," said Valente.
"This building is now a part of the legacy that is Marinette Marine," said Goddard before the ribbon cutting.
Marinette Marine president Chuck Goddard says the company has increased its workforce by more than 60 percent – now numbering roughly 1,400. Goddard says this allows for more work to be taken on.
"It allows us to go compete for future work, so, we're not totally dependent on LCS," said Goddard. "We have the Offshore Patrol Cutter for the Coast Guard that we have a design in for that we hope to get the award this summer."
Goddard says the completion of the facility is good news for the proposed Maritime Center of Excellence in Marinette – a proposed business incubator and training facility, partly funded with state money.
Goddard says the company is still looking to hire about 25 people.
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