At last week’s International WorkBoat Show in New Orleans, people had a lot to smile about. Morning libations may have been one reason, but for most it was because business is good and the outlook, at least through 2013 and into 2014, is good as well.
After hearing some positive talk about finances at the WorkBoat Executive Summit before the show opened, shipyard industry veteran John Dane III delivered more upbeat news during his keynote address on the first day of the show.
Dane, president and CEO of Gulfport, Miss.-based TY Offshore and Trinity Yachts, said Gulf boatbuilders were bursting with orders for new, advanced offshore service vessels. For his company this includes five 302’x64′ dual-fuel supply vessels for Harvey Gulf International.
With the deepwater and ultradeepwater market poised for more growth in the next few years, Dane said that the new rigs destined for the Gulf “are all going to need boats.” At present, Dane estimated, over 60 technologically advanced OSVs are underway or on order at U.S. yards. Yards that build tugs and other boats such as crew-suppliers, are also flush with work. However, Dane and other yard officials are concerned that they will have a tough time getting all of these boats out on time because of the continued shortage of good workers. “Our biggest problem today is the lack of skilled workers,” Dane said, who added that of 140 people who showed at a recent job fair TY only hired seven.
BAE Systems, which announced a deal at the show to build two PSVs for Jackson Offshore Operators, has the same problem. At its Mobile, Ala., shipyard in late September, hundreds turned out at a job fair. BAE wants to add an additional 1,200 employees by the end of next year. According to BAE Systems Ship Repair spokesman John Measell, over 1,400 people attended the job fair but the company still has openings for fitters, welders, machinists, electricians, crane operators and other positions.