Shipbuilder shows thanks
By Zac Britton
Marinette Eagle Herald
March 28, 2009
MARINETTE – After a brief Power Point presentation, comments from U.S. Reps. Bart Stupak and Steve Kagen, and a question-and-answer discussion with Marinette Marine employees, Richard McCreary summarized the thoughts of the Marinette shipbuilder on Friday.
"We can’t thank you enough for your help," said the president/CEO/general manager of Marinette Marine to the congressmen.
"Glad to do it," stated Stupak (D-Menominee)
"So what’s next?" joked Kagen (D-Appleton), gesturing to a picture of the Littorial Combat Ship (LCS) on a projection screen.
Kagen and Stupak joined Wisconsin State Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, Marinette Mayor Bob Harbick, Marinette County Board Chairman George Bousley, Marinette County Administrator Steve Corbeille and Menominee County Administrator Brian Neumeier in the company’s executive board room. The hour-long discussion wound up a week that started with Kagen and Stupak announcing on Monday that the Marinette shipbuilder received the U.S. Naval contract for the construction of a third LCS.
The Lockheed Martin-designed ship is a multi-purpose craft that can be used in warfare, such as surface and anti-submarine military operations, as well as humanitarian missions. It’s semi-planning steel monohull allows it to reach speed of 40 knots.
The contract was not as important as its effects.
"The LCS program is all about jobs, jobs and more jobs," stated Kagen afterward. "We have to restore our job base to work our way out in this economy as much as it is in a recession.
"I’m very pleased that congressman Stupak and I were successful in cajoling the Navy to move forward as rapidly as they did," he added. "It’s never as fast as you’d like it to be, but it’s gonna get done. This will be just the second ship of hopefully many more that we’ll build here at Marinette Marine."
McCreary couldn’t agree more, especially in terms of potentially returning all Marinette Marine employees to work.
"What this does is stabilize us going forward and now we have a base we can build from either with other LCSs or other work where we can get back to full employment," he said. "The LCS alone doesn’t allow us to recall our 170 (employees) that are laid off, but it gives us the base that if we add one more contract to this yard – of any size – we’ll be able to on a phase basis."
That could return the Fincanteri-owned company to the levels it had in early 2008, while finishing work was being done on the nation’s first LCS, USS Freedom. The Marinette-constructed craft was commissioned by the Navy on Nov. 8, 2008, in Milwaukee following successful sea trials in August and delivery in September.
The trial-and-error of that inaugural vessel was an emphasis of a presentation made by Jim LaCosse, the LCS Program Manager at Marinette Marine. He detailed several areas where costs can be decreased, while also highlighting the elevated cost of raw materials.
With work already begun on the third LCS, dubbed USS Fort Worth, Marinette Marine has projected a launch in December 2010 with delivery to the Navy a year later. By that time, Marinette could be the building site for up to three more LCS contracts expected to be awarded by the Navy in 2010.
"We can build this now like we KNOW how to build ships," McCreary said.