September 13 2004

Sparrow's Point gets ship scrapping contract

A shipyard in Baltimore Harbor will be paid $2.3 million to dismantle two aging ships from the U.S. Department of Transportation's James River Reserve Fleet in Virginia under a pair of contracts expected to create new jobs for local residents, according to an announcement today by Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta.

North American Ship Recycling, a subsidiary of Barletta Willis LLC--the Boston-based investment group that won the bid to purchase the former Bethlehem Steel Sparrows Point Shipyard in November 2003 for $11.3 million-- will get two "ghost" ships, the Lauderdale and the Mormacmoon, sometime near the end of the year.

Mineta made the announcement following a tour of the company's facility at Sparrows Point Shipyard. The company is expected to hire 50 people to do the work, nearly doubling its existing payroll, Mineta said.

Mineta said the contracts, managed by his department's Maritime Administration could lead to more work for the company if the first two jobs go as planned.

"These contracts could be just the beginning," Mineta said. "If they go well, and if the company is competitive in future bids, more ships could follow next year," he said.

The North American Ship Recycling contracts are the latest awarded over the last few months to U.S. companies. Marine Metals of Brownsville, Texas was awarded contracts for two ships and ESCO Marine of Brownsville, Texas was awarded contracts for three ships earlier this summer.

Mineta noted the facilities at the Baltimore shipyard provide for scrapping of the ships in dry docks, ensuring that the environment will be protected while the work is being completed. The majority of the steel from the ships is expected to be recycled at a local business located in Sparrows Point, he said.

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