Sunday, January 08, 2006

Yardbird War

The draw down of submarine construction and repair work and the Brac decision to keep Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS) open has created an interesting fight between shipyards. The not hiring and maybe firing of shipyard workers or (Yardbirds), from Yard banned from hiring more workers excerpt:

PORTSMOUTH - The Navy has placed a hiring freeze on Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, according to shipyard union president Paul O'Connor.

O'Connor said the freeze was put into effect last month after lawmakers from Connecticut had a "knee-jerk" reaction to the news that Portsmouth would receive a $59 million contract that was originally scheduled to go to the privately owned Electric Boat in Groton, Conn.

The contract in question is for the scheduled overhaul of the USS Philadelphia (SSN-690).

Electric Boat (EB) had announced the layoff of 150 workers and PNS the need for 330 more workers just prior to the Philadelphia's overhaul work being shifted to PNS. Subsequently EB in the beginning of December announced that as many as 2,400 jobs could be cut in 2006 due to the loss of repair work and the Navy's procurement of only one Virginia Class submarine per year in the foreseeable future.

Add to the above, the fight that has been churning over the ASDS program and you just hit the equivalent of a east coast shipbuilders trifecta including the Navy PNS yard, Electric Boat and a smaller Northrop Grumman contract.

The yardbirds are fighting over the crumbs (overhaul work and not new construction) compared to the cold war shipyard boom times. I still feel that the capacity and experience offered by PNS is still a valuable asset to our national defense. However, when you build one type product for only one customer the lean times can kill the complacent. Look for any other shifts in contracts relating to submarine overhaul and repair to meet with lots of resistance that probably wouldn't have been there 20 years ago.

Update 01/10/06 20:00 - Looks like EB is now getting a slice of Northrop Grumman's work on the USS Texas - Electric Boat Wins $85 Million Contract for Sub Work (hat tip: TheSubReport). Could this be to quite the noise generated from the above stated contacts or just that they're doing good work now a days as Bubblehead has cited recently?

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