$19 Million In Small Shipyard Grants Awarded

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MarAd) announced $19.6 million in grants to support capital improvements at 28 U.S. small shipyards on June 17 as a part of its Small Shipyard Grant program.

“These grants help create jobs in America’s small shipyards, which play a significant role in our country’s maritime sector,” said U.S. Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao.

This year, a high proportion of the award-winners—10 out of 27—are inland yards or yards that do projects for the inland navigation industry.

Heartland Fabrication

Eva Metzger, manager of administration at Heartland Fabrication LLC, located in Brownsville, Pa., was glad to get the news. Heartland was awarded $1,008,000 in funding to acquire and install an automated coating application system and conveyor line to support the Heartland Fabrication Structural Steel Coatings Improvement Project. Metzger worked hard preparing Heartland’s application and visited Washington, D.C., to talk about it to three of her state’s representatives in Congress.

It’s Heartland’s second Small Shipyard grant. In 2012, it was awarded money for a blast and coating system for plate steel. This new coating system will work on shaped and structural components.

The project will make the work of the structural workers less labor- intensive, and therefore safer, Metzger told The Waterways Journal. “We are in full swing with our hopper line,” she said.

Metzger said the grant will improve production, efficiency and safety, and will pave the way for other improvements. Metzger hopes the news of the grant and new equipment will help attract workers, which she admits is “a challenge.” “We have open positions for welders, fitters and machine operators,” she said.

Mike’s Inc.

Mike’s Inc. of South Roxana, Ill., is a first-time recipient of a Small Shipyard grant. General manager Amy Marko, who prepared the application with a dedicated team of helpers, admitted the grant application was “pretty daunting and a huge amount of information to pull together during one of their busiest periods,” but she is glad their hard work paid off. “My dad [Mike Marko, owner and president] was so thrilled when we received the notification, he hasn’t stopped spreading the news yet,” she said.

The application work and research had to be done on top of a busy work schedule. Despite the river being shut down due to the floods, Mike’s continued operating at full speed. “We have a board full of customer work waiting for navigation to re-open, but we’ve kept our crews fully employed during this time by making great progress on our new harbor vessel. We’ve been boating in and out of the shipyard for almost a month now,” said Marko. About the floods, she said, “It’s been an adventure—but we’re all more than ready for it to be over!”

The schedule kept her from making any outside visits to support the grant application, but Mike’s did get letters of support from some of the company’s big customers and two U.S. senators.

Mike’s Inc. will receive $709,405 toward the acquisition of a 110-ton lattice boom crawler crane. The yard will put up a 30 percent match, and the grant doesn’t include the cost of the barge on which the new crane will be mounted.

With two drydocks & multiple customer facilities needing crane service nearby, “We currently have two floating cranes but more than enough work for three,” said Marko. The new crane will decrease the shipyard’s need to hire a third-party crane service, increasing its production capability and efficiency.

The other inland grant recipients include:

• Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. (Nelson Street), located in Panama City, Fla., which will get $640,618 in funding towards several pieces of equipment that will increase overall shipyard productivity.

• LaShip, located in Houma, La., which will receive $402,900. to support the acquisition and integration of an advanced technology piece of equipment that will allow the organization to efficiently manufacture metal and metal alloy parts.

• Paducah Barge LLC of Paducah, Ky., which will receive $700,570 to support the acquisition and construction of a new dry dock that will enable the yard to start hauling barges for vessel repairs, providing additional scheduling flexibility and reliability and increasing the entire facility’s efficiency.

• Port Bolivar Marine Service, Inc. located in Port Bolivar, Texas which will be awarded $390,451 towards the purchase of several pieces of equipment that will significantly improve the efficiency of ship construction and repair activities.

• Shark Tech LLC of Bayou la Batre, Ala., which will receive $511,671 towards the purchase of welding enhancements and material handling equipment.

• Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors, LLC, located in Lockport, La., which will receive $738,645 toward the purchase of three overhead cranes to serve as the primary lifting capacity at the facility, increasing project process efficiency and dropping construction costs.

• TPG Chicago Dry Dock LLC, Chicago, Ill., which will receive $1.2 million towards the purchase of a drydock and the support of a welder training program. These two additions will increase the efficiency of shipyard operations as well as improve the competitive shipyard services for the facility’s customers.

• VT Halter Marine, Pascagoula, Miss., which will receive $536,000 to support the purchase of several pieces of equipment to improve ship construction and repair activities at the facility.