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January 27, 2009

Erie Shipbuilding closes doors

Erie Shipbuilding LLC has closed its doors and laid off its work force, estimated at more than 100 people, reports GoErie.com.

According to the report, on January 21 the company informed the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority, from which it leases the yard, that the plant would be closed for at least two weeks.

Erie Shipbuilding, a joint venture of Van Enkevort Tug & Barge and K&K Warehousing, is midway through construction of an 780 ft dry bulk ATB for Van Enkevort Tug & Barge.

The yard told the port authority that it is working with a third party for interim financing, "but in the meantime we are under a huge cash flow shortage which has prevented us from ordering materials."

"We believe this shutdown is temporary and will get the interim financing in place," the yard said

A $2.5 million state grant for the shipyard announced in August 2006 has yet to materialize.

The Erie yard is located on a 44-acre site with a 1,250 feet by 120 feet by 22 feet (depth over sill) dry dock, the largest dry dock on the Great Lakes. It was originally the Litton Shipyard used in the late 1960's and early 1970's to build two 1,000 ft self-unloading lakers that are still operating on the Great Lakes. The port authority purchased the shipyard from Litton in the 1980's. Since then it has been leased by Erie Marine Enterprises, a ship-repair company, and Metro Machine Corp. before being leased by Erie Shipbuilding, which was established in 2005.


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