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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -
They helped provide hundreds of jobs here in South Mississippi. And will soon help protect U.S. troops stationed in Kuwait.
Two military patrol boats, built here in South Mississippi, are temporarily docked at the Gulfport harbor. The vessels are part of a ten boat contract between Kuwait and United States Marine in Gulfport.
"Every time I see one, or touch one, it's just a sense of pride," said D.J. Malley, who helps oversee the construction of these military craft.
"It's a $60 million plus contract. And they're totally funded by the state of Kuwait. So, others are outsourcing jobs, we're bringing jobs into the community."
The patrol boats are built at Trinity Offshore, which is a partner of U.S. Marine. Three more of the vessels are in different stages of production.
"These are not ordinary jobs. These are highly skilled manufacturing jobs. For instance, a welder today should be able to make about 60 thousand dollars a year working in the marine field," said William S. Smith III with Trinity Offshore.
Then there's the trickle down impact that benefits various local suppliers.
"Everything we can get locally, we do. Everything from material for building the craft or even cutting the material. Anything we can get locally, we try very hard," said Malley.
Not only is this good news for the local economy in terms of building these boats, but also the transport. That's because the two vessels will be shipped through the Port of Gulfport, which will provide another local boost for the economy.
"We're so close that it provides a direct access to ship these boats out. We can get them from our facility down to the port and load them on at the port. So, that's just another example of creating jobs locally," Malley explained.
The boats are scheduled to be loaded onto a ship at the port on Sunday. Once delivered overseas, the patrol boats will become part of the Kuwait naval force. The vessels will patrol the Arabian gulf, helping protect U.S. troops stationed at the Kuwait naval base.
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