Navy awards two ship-repair contracts to Marine Hydraulics …
One of the local shipyards facing a slump in repair work on Navy vessels is breathing a whole lot easier. Norfolk-based Marine Hydraulics International Inc., known as MHI, has apparently snagged two of three pending Navy ship-repair contracts that had been held up through the spring by funding uncertainties in Washington. The Navy has announced that Norfolk-based Marine Hydraulics International Inc., known as MHI, has been awarded an £11.4 million contract for maintenance and repair work on the destroyer Mason.
The contract award, made June 5, was bumped up a week ahead of schedule, the Navy said. While work on the six-month contract isn’t set to start until Aug.
14, the Navy is giving the company early access to the vessel to begin some work July 10. “There is some light at the end of the tunnel,” said Tom Epley, president and CEO of MHI, on Thursday.
Within an hour or so of voicing some relief at winning the Mason award, Epley said he learned that the Navy had awarded MHI another of the three contracts, for the dock landing ship Whidbey Island. The contract is valued at £25 million and the work, which is scheduled to start in August, will extend into April, Epley said. Because of the slow-down in the workflow, MHI has had to lay off 58 employees.
While the new contract awards assure that relief is on the way, it won’t be immediate. “It’s going to take some time,” Epley said. The company also has gained a bit of a cushion by picking up a Military Sealift Command contract for work on the USNS Joshua Humphreys, set to start in early August, he added.
The remaining contract, yet to be awarded as of midafternoon Thursday, is for work on the destroyer Nitze. BAE Systems Norfolk shipyard is among the other yards still waiting to hear. “We still have plans to complete our layoff of 300 people by the end of June,” said Karl Johnson, a BAE spokesman, adding that most of the affected workers are already gone.
The cuts at BAE will leave the yard with about 700 workers, less than half of the yard’s workforce in September 2015, when a series of layoffs began sweeping the region’s shipyards.
The delays in the awarding of the contracts for the Mason, the Whidbey Island and the Nitze created a gap in the workflow in the area’s ship-repair yards, which industry officials said in April would lead to more than 1,000 layoffs.