PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - Thanks to a new $745-million contract with the U.S. Coast Guard, VT Halter Marine is expanding its Pascagoula shipyard and its workforce to get all the work done. The shipbuilder announced that the $37.5-million corporate investment will create 900 jobs over the next five years.
The contract with the Coast Guard is for the design and construction of a Polar Security Cutter, the first heavy icebreaker constructed in the last four decades. VT Halter Marine expects to deliver the Polar Security Cutter to the U.S. Coast Guard in 2024.
“For the most part our facilty was already sufficient to build it. We had the depth to build it... But we have to reinforce a lot of the things we do. At the same time we want to modernize our shipyard," said Ron Baczkowski, president and CEO of VT Halter Marine. "We are looking at this as a transformational opportunity. To not just make the ice breakers but modernize Halter Marine.”
Renovations to the shipyard are slated to begin in late 2019, and will include the rehabilitation and modernization of the company’s Pascagoula shipyard. Over the next 18 months the company will begin installing programs to fully embrace the digital age. Robotic welding will become much more common.
"This was a very competitive selection process. Our design package, the local workforce and facilities in Pascagoula set VT Halter Marine apart from our competitors and made this win possible,“ said Baczkowski.
“VT Halter Marine is one of the best shipbuilders in the world, with a dedicated workforce committed to delivering the most technologically advanced ships to its government and commercial customers,” Gov. Phil Bryant said.
The Mississippi Development Authority is making a significant investment in the project by providing a $12.5 million grant for a dry dock and $1.5 million for workforce training.
“Mississippi’s workforce gives companies a strategic advantage, which will be evidenced as VT Halter Marine’s new employees work effectively to fulfill the company’s contract for the U.S. Coast Guard’s next-generation Polar Security Cutter,” said MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr.
The end goal is to make the process much more consistent and reproducible. Allowing VT Halter to continue to bid for new business while creating new jobs for hundreds of South Mississippians