MARINETTE - After months of waiting and wondering, good news has sailed into Marinette.
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Armed Service Committee, says the Navy approached Congress recently with a new plan. It wants to double its order for littoral combat ships, or LCS, from 10 to 20. Levin says the Navy also wants to split the contract between a shipyard in Alabama and Marinette Marine.
"My expectation is, if this works out as well as it does, this kind of split would continue," said Levin.
The plan still needs approval from Congress, but Levin says the support is there.
"This is effectively, essentially done and they don't expect there will be any wrinkle," said Levin.
The multi-billion dollar contract would create at least 1,000 new jobs at Marinette Marine.
"It will help the community. It will help the whole region up here. There's work done in lower Michigan, the Upper Peninsula, the Fox Cities, they all come together," said Marinette Mayor Bob Harbick.
The contract would also give a boost to countless other businesses in the region, like Sherwin-Williams. The company supplied paints to Marinette Marine for the first two LCS and has already submitted a bid for the next 10 ships.
Manager Paul Miller say it will help the business in other ways too.
"If you're talking 1,000 new jobs and people moving into the community, there will be a lot of home improvement and possibly new homes going up," said Miller.
Originally, the Navy had said it was an all-or-nothing contract. If it does get split up, Levin says the competitive bidding process will be the reason why.
"Both bids came in, frankly, so well under the Congressional cap that they then had to make a decision. Should we keep both shipyards going for the future?" said Levin.
All indications are, yes.
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