VT Halter Marine's shipbuilding deal to create 100+ jobs

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Here's some great news in today's tough economy. VT Halter Marine in Jackson County will soon be putting up help wanted signs. The shipbuilders have just been awarded a new multi-million dollar contract to build a massive ship.

The sound of progress could be heard at VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula Wednesday. Shipbuilders have begun building a newest state-of-the art vessel.

"It is going to be the largest vessel built at Halter," CEO Bill Skinner said.

The 692 foot ship will be more than two football fields long.

"It can carry 600 automobile trailers and carry 1,500 containers, and it has a little over 13,000 tons of steel in it."

Skinner said the $441 million project means more business for VT Halter, and it will provide more jobs for skilled craftsmen looking for work.

"It is going to add approximately 150 new jobs to our 1,600 jobs that we currently have here," Skinner said. "It will be a variety of jobs: like ship fitters, welders, electricians."

Those who already work at VT Halter said the new deal means they can stay employed in this rough economy.

"There is so many people that do not have a job. They are having a hard time keeping their bills paid and feeding their family," shipbuilder Randall Green said.

Once this ship that is now under construction is built and delivered, Skinner said he has a lot more work for the shipbuilders. In fact, he said the backlog extends until 2013.

"We currently have five programs, everything from tug barge unit that's in the 330,000 ton range to fast missile crafts for the U.S. Navy," Skinner said.

If business stays steady, VT Halter said it may even consider expanding into the repair work side along with new construction. Proposed ideas that could help build this business and add to the workforce on the coast.

Skinner said VT Halter will do the majority of the hiring in January. The ship should be ready by 2013, and it will provide weekly service to and from the mainland to Hawaii.

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