Hurricane Michael’s path brought its eye wall with category 4 winds over Panama City, Fla.-based Eastern Shipbuilding Group's, Allanton, Fla., shipyard. The yard is located about 15 miles east of Eastern's headquarters and main yard in Panama City, and just a few miles west of Mexico Beach, Fla., where Hurricane Michael made landfall. Company officials now are working to make sure workers and their families are safe and begin a recovery.
“Both shipyards have taken hurricane damage,” ESG president Joey D’Isernia wrote in a message on the company’s website. “First and foremost, please take care of your families and secure your homes. Once that is done we need to hear from you and get back to work. The cleanup effort will take all of us so we can get back to building vessels.”
The hurricane surge swept a nearly finished 261’ Alaska factory trawler, the North Star, into Saint Andrews Bay were it was resting on its starboard side. The trawler was built by Eastern for Glacier Fish Co., Seattle, and was launched in April 2018. The vessel was scheduled to be completed and depart for Alaska in November to catch and process Bering Sea groundfish.
“The boat was nearing completion, and because of all the destruction down there, we have not been able to survey the vessel,” Jim Johnson, president of Glacier Fish, told the Seattle Times.
Glacier Fish and Eastern Shipbuilding are reportedly working together, along with insurance and salvage officials to assess the damages. No representative from either company was available for public comment in the days following the incident.
Other projects at Eastern include the new Ollis-class vessels for New York’s Staten Island Ferry, and Tier 4 tugs for McAllister Towing and Transportation Co. In September, Eastern Shipbuilding announced it was awarded the construction contract for the first Coast Guard offshore patrol cutter. The OPC project was set to begin in early 2019 and employ close to 1,000 workers, said D’Isernia at the time. Under the contract, Eastern could potentially build 25 boats for the Coast Guard over the next 20 years.