Pascagoula shipyard builds first Egyptian defense ship - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Pascagoula shipyard builds first Egyptian defense ship

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

By Patrice Clark – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - VT Halter Marine will build its first Egyptian defense ship to help fight the global war on terror. This Egyptian investment is expected to create hundreds of jobs for South Mississippians. The Jackson County shipbuilder held a special keel laying ceremony Wednesday to celebrate construction.

U.S. Navy men and women watched as a global partnership was sealed with sparks and fire.  Egypt's Chief Naval commander traced his initials into the keel of his nation's first missile ship to be built in Mississippi at VT Halter Marine.

"The Egyptians were very interested in the design VT Halter had," U.S. Rear Admiral William Landay said. 

U.S. Rear Admiral Landay spent two years helping his Egyptian counterparts work with the shipbuilder to design the Navy Fast Missile Craft.  The state of the art ship will be 200 feet long with advanced technology, exceptional security and fighting capabilities. 

"It will be a very capable ship, and it has missiles to attack other ships, and it has guns and radar." 

Rear Admiral Landay said the ship will patrol and protect the country's coastline and canals. 

"It will be a player in their region and that is what the Egyptian Navy was looking for." 

This is one of four ships the foreign country has hired VT Halter to build for $807 million. Company CEO Build Skinner said this project will surely keep his shipbuilder busy and create more jobs. 

"It is going to provide employment through the end of 2013," Skinner said. "We will add an additional 300 jobs."

Skinner said to be able to build up a workforce in this weak economy is great news for the company and those craftsmen looking for work. 

"Our industry, right now, is somewhat slow, and we have the opportunity to build on an existing program and start this program is, to us, exciting for us." 

The Navy and VT Halter Marine hope this investment is another step in the global fight to keep the waterways safe. The first Egyptian ship is expected to be delivered in 2012. 

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