PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – The Eastern Shipbuilding Group is celebrating the grand opening of its new aluminum fabrication facility. 

The building was specifically designed to enhance the construction of the U.S. Coast Guard’s offshore patrol cutters. 

The project was funded using a five million dollar grant from Triumph Gulf Coast. 

Eastern Shipbuilding Group President Joey Disernia said this is a major milestone for the company. 

“The saying goes that the rising tide floats all boats,” Disernia said. “So this represents the rising tide of an economic transformational project.”

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He said it is a tailored design to support the Coast Guard’s largest program in the recapitalization project.

The space has a significant height and crane capability to work on the vessels in a covered space. Plus the ability to control temperature and humidity while welding the aluminum. 

The building was also built to withstand up to 150 mile-per-hour winds. 

Disernia said this will help make the cutter project more efficient. 

“What you end up with is higher quality, fewer weather delays, and overall a lower life cycle cost for the customer who is going to be operating these vessels for up to 50 years,” Disernia said.

The celebration was not only centered around the new building but also the new jobs the cutter project will bring to Bay County.

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Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said the project shows the diversification of the area.

“Right now they have 14 hundred people working, they’re going to be hiring more and more,” Brudnicki said. “More and more people coming into the area boosts the economy because every dollar that is spent here is going to be filtered back through the economy.”

Eastern Shipbuilding Group is currently working on three Coast Guard cutters. 

They’re hoping to be awarded the contract to build 10 more vessels. Eastern Shipbuilding officials say they should know if they were awarded the contract in the spring.