Dorchester Shipyard in southern New Jersey just completed the first drydocking on its new 500-ton capacity drydock. The drydock was built at Steel America, a division of Norfolk,Va.-based Colonna's Shipyard. It was towed up to the yard on the Maurice River, off the Delaware Bay by Northstar Towing. The dock is 100' long with eight ballast tanks and 60' between the wing walls.

Dorchester Shipyard was purchased in 2005 by John Kelleher, whose family operates a large clamming fleet. The yard has grown to service not just the commercial fishing fleet, but also tugs and barges. The $3 million expansion will add repair capacity to an area busy with barge traffic on the Delaware River.

Dorchester Shipyard's new drydock. Dorchester Shipyard photo.James Roussos, Dorchester vice president, said that the staff at the yard has built a "formidable knowledge base" when it comes to workboat repair. "John (Kelleher) is a 'boat guy,' he loves being at the yard and solving problems. He has a very hands-on approach to the clam harvesting operations and the shipyard."

According to Roussos, Kelleher's commitment informs the culture of the yard, where most workers' tenure extends to its inception. Roussos hopes the drydock will put the quiet Maurice River on the map for tug repairs. "A lot of tug captains are unfamiliar with the waterway and will find it is quite hospitable with plenty of high water."

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