PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Eastern Shipbuilding was awarded a contract to begin work on their fourth offshore patrol cutter for the U.S. Coast Guard Tuesday.
Because of their progress on the three other cutters, the U.S. Coast Guard awarded them a fourth.
In September of 2016, Eastern Shipbuilding was awarded up to 11 cutters, but after Hurricane Michael, the U.S. Coast Guard reduced the contract to four ships.
The Coast Guard has been soliciting bids to build the next 11 cutters.
Eastern Shipbuilding President Joey D’Isernia said they are up against all of the biggest shipbuilders in the nation.
“This is a really great milestone for Eastern Shipbuilding and our community because this truly has been a community effort to get to where we are, especially since Hurricane Michael and we are very proud of it,” D’Isernia said.
Each of these 370 feet vessels takes three years to complete.
D’Isneria said these contracts have a huge economic impact on Bay County.
“This is great not only for this company, our company but for our community. This means long-time work, continued long-term work, and continued demand for skilled craftsmen and craftswomen, so it is a job. It is a lot of economic impact and a lot of economic certainty,” D’Isernia said.
These vessels cost hundreds of millions of dollars and are federally funded.
“These aren’t dollars that are going from location A to location B within the state. These are dollars coming into the state. And millions and millions of dollars will go as direct wages to Bay Countians, so this is a huge economic impact,” D’Isernia said.
Right now, they are recompeting to build cutters five through 15 which would mean another decade of high-paying jobs for the community.
They expect to physically start construction on the fourth vessel in the fall.