Stimulus funds and shipyard jobs

The recession hit Lyon Shipyard Inc. just like everyone else. Work slowed to a crawl at the Norfolk, Va., yard and its big Drydock No. 1 sat idle. The yard had planned on refurbishing the dock, built in 1972, within the next three years. But the “timely alignment” of federal funds and a drop in demand for the dock provided an ideal window to perform the work, according to Tom Ackiss, Lyon’s vice president.

Photo Credit: Lyon Shipyard Inc.

The refurb work was done in Baltimore at Sparrows Point Shipyard. The drydock was originally built utilizing the hulls of two railcar floats. The shell plating on these extremely strong sections was in surprisingly good shape. The overall structure of the dock was reinforced, framing fortified and watertight bulkheads were added making the dock more stable.

Before the upgrade, the drydock had 100 percent manual valve and pump operation. Now, it is approximately 85 percent remote valve and pump operation. The new valves and pumps have sped up the ballasting to deballasting to one foot every 90 seconds.

Capacity was boosted from 3,000 to 5,000 LT. The drydock can now haul vessels with an overall length of 400’, up from 326’. The blockable keel length increased from 280’ to 326’.

“While some stimulus spending is criticized as producing little benefit, approximately 80 shipyard workers, plus suppliers and fabricators, were involved in this project over a nine-month period,” Ackiss said.

The dock is now busy with work scheduled right through the third quarter. This is a case where stimulus funds did exactly what they were supposed to do — create jobs.

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About the author

Kathy Bergren Smith

Kathy Bergren Smith has been a correspondent with WorkBoat since 2002. She is also a writer and photographer for the Port of Baltimore Magazine covering shipping and port activities. Smith, also a noted commercial and fine art photographer, resides in Annapolis, Md.

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