Wisconsin workboats

This week, I visited several shipyards in Wisconsin. Two of the biggest, Marinette Marine Corp. (MMC) and Bay Shipbuilding, are part of Fincantieri Marine Group (FMG), a subsidiary of Fincantieri, one of Europe’s largest shipbuilders.

The Sikuliaq at MMC

These shipyards have a distinguished history of building quality vessels. MMC, located in Marinette, was founded in 1942 and has built more than 1,500 vessels for government and commercial clients. Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay got its start building Great Lakes vessels back in 1918. 

Since purchasing the yards in 2008 from The Manitowoc Company Inc. for about $120 million, Fincantieri has backed up its announcement at the time of the sale that it would modernize MMC and Bay Ship’s facilities, “thereby increasing efficiency and productivity.”

In May, MMC marked the completion of Fincantieri’s $73 million investment in the shipyard.

Since 2009, MMC has added six buildings, doubling its indoor production space and increasing its workforce by 60 percent to 1,400 employees. With the upgrades, MMC now exceeds the Navy’s requirement to deliver two Littoral Combat Ships per year, and gives the company additional capacity to pursue other programs such as the Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter. At present, MMC has four LCSes underway.

MMC is also busy with the $200 million Sikuliaq, a 261′ ice-capable research vessel for Alaska. The vessel was launched last October in Marinette, Wis. The 261’x48′, 5,750-hp vessel is the first built for the National Science Foundation in more than three decades. It will be operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. The ship was designed by Seattle-based Glosten Associates and is expected to be delivered to its homeport of Seward, Alaska, in January 2014.

Over at Bay Ship, which has also seen a big investment from Fincantieri, the yard is getting ready to deliver the first of two 303′ deepwater platform supply vessels for Tidewater Marine. Built from the MMC 887 LH PSV design from MMC Ship Design of Poland, the diesel-electric Z-drive DP-2 PSVs are the first polar class 7 (Ice Class PC 7) vessels being built for Tidewater under new American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) rules.

I’ll have more about these boats in the October issue of WorkBoat and more about my Wisconsin trip in next week’s blog.

About the author

David Krapf

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.

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