GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Big defense spending means big business for South Mississippi. For shipbuilders, the sound of drills and riveters makes sweet music, and United States Marine, Inc. CEO Barry Dreyfus Jr. is dancing to the beat.
"Just the other day, my wife and I were in the car and said, 'Look, look! There's a boat we built!'" he said. "So, I'm just a like a kid in a candy store when I see our products coming from Gulfport, Mississippi, everywhere in the world."
Congress approved a boost in the national defense budget by $160 billion over two years as part of its $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package in March.
"That's the best part of the bill was fully funding our military, which is turning into orders from the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard and others," said U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo. "And a lot of those orders are taking place right here in the yard that we're standing in at U.S. Marine."
USMI is in the process of adding 40 people to its workforce and doubling its production to 20-30 boats a year for the next three to five years.
"We were at low-rate production for a long while," Dreyfus said. "But now, with the new defense budget and this sequestration caps going, Congress has done a great job in funding our military."
Production under the new funding has already started.
"We're doing it right now," Dreyfus said. "In fact, we're here on a Friday. We normally work Monday through Thursday, 10 hours a day. But because we don't have enough people, we're working overtime today and tomorrow."
Among those will be a 9-meter explosive ordinance boat designed to clear mines.
Also under construction is the NSW RIB, which serves multiple duties including search and rescue operations.
"The boats we'll be building in the next few years compliments special forces and other people in the Department of defense."
United States Marine has already started to hire new employees, and in 2-3 years, the workforce should be up to nearly 200.