MARINETTE - Officials from Marinette Marine and LockheedMartin responded Thursday to an announcement from the U.S. Navyregarding the production of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS).
A northeast Wisconsin boat builder is competing with an Alabamashipyard. The prize is a naval contract, that could be worthhundreds of millions of dollars. The U.S. Navy is shopping for amanufacturer to build 10 ships. That could have a huge impact onjobs and communities in our area.
Originally, The Navy was going to divide the 10 ships betweenits two current shipbuilders, one of which is Marinette Marine. Butnow the Navy says it will be cheaper to choose one shipbuilder forall.
"This change to increase competition is required so we can buildthe LCS at an affordable price," said Ray Mabus, secretary of theNavy, in a news release.
The USS Freedom is the first Littoral Combat Ship built byMarinette Marine, in partnership with Lockheed Martin. Thecompanies are working on a second LCS called the Fort Worth.
"We are extremely happy to be building the Fort Worth," saidRichard McCreary, president and CEO of Marinette Marine.
McCreary says the ship is on time and on budget, and hopes tobuild more LCS's for the Navy, which just announced it is changingthe way it will award contracts for future LCSs. Instead of havingtwo manufacturers produce some ships, one will produce all ships ina contract, up to 10.
"The downside is, instead of potentially one ship, it could bezero ships. But the upside is, instead of potentially one ship, itcould be 10 ships," said McCreary.
The company says each ship has a large economic impact, addingabout 1,500 jobs in the area during a three year period.
Marinette Marine is in Wisconsin, but right on the border ofWisconsin and Michigan. The company says about 60% of its employeescome from Wisconsin, and 40% from the upper peninsula ofMichigan.
"When we start talking a program of record of multiple multipleships, that's huge. It would drive employment in this shipyard fromroughly 1000 people today to as high as 22 - 2500, and then ofcourse you have the ripple effect with all of our local supplierbase," said McCreary.
Though the navy has decided to make the process "all or nothing"instead of splitting up the ships between two manufacturers, thosebuilding the LCS in Northest Wisconsin are ready for thechallenge.
The Navy is expected to make its decision by next summer.
Marinette Marine says while it hopes to land the next Navycontract, it is also bidding on various other projects outside ofthe LCS.
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