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Vessel will be built at Toledo Shipyard

For the first time in nearly 15 years, a vessel will be built at Toledo Shipyard.

Manitowoc Marine Group, a Wisconsin company that owns Toledo Shiprepair Co., will build a 391-foot-long barge at its facility, 2345 Front St., on the east bank of the Maumee River, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) said yesterday.

“This is such good news for us,” she said. “It means the restoration of shipbuilding in Toledo and the Port of Toledo, crossroads of the Great Lakes.”

The vessel will be a 110,000-barrel, double-hull hot-oil tank barge. It is scheduled for delivery in November, 2004.

The project is an outgrowth of an effort announced this year to renovate the shipyard, which is owned by Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. So far, the federal government has earmarked $2 million, Toledo will contribute $1.5 million, and the county has committed to a $1 million for the renovation, said Warren McCrimmon, seaport director for the port authority.

The port authority, which leases the shipyard to Manitowoc, is trying to assemble $7.5 million in federal, state, and local contributions for the $10 million renovation project.

The money would cover expansion of the fabrication facility, construction of a partially covered dry dock, and a paint shop, as well as other improvements that will allow ships to be built there.

Mr. McCrimmon said the port authority will come up with the other $3 million for the project and Manitowoc would contribute the rest.

The barge will be built without the benefit of a “high-bay” facility, which is a large warehouse in which sections of ships can be built, Mr. McCrimmon said. But he said the promise of the new facilities and equipment helped land the deal and should ensure future shipbuilding projects in addition to the repair work done at the yard.

“We re ecstatic,” Mr. McCrimmon said. “This is one of the things we said could happen when we were pursuing the money for the high-bay facility. Assuming everything goes well with this one, there could be three more right behind it.”

The contract with Hornbeck Offshore Services, Inc., for the barge allows for the possibility that three more barges could be purchased, according to a news release issued by Manitowoc.

Steven Khail, a spokesman for Manitowoc, said the company, which has contracts that include building Staten Island ferries and Coast Guard vessels, has a “slate of work” extending into 2005.

“Depending on the size and scope of these projects, we ll put the work where we have capacity and manpower to build the vessels,” Mr. Khail said. “With Toledo being one of three shipbuilding yards, there s the possibility more work could be heading that way.”

Mr. McCrimmon said when the renovation is completed, Manitowoc officials estimate the shipyard could employ 150 to 300 people at minimum wages of $18 an hour, depending on the types of contracts landed by the company.

Harry Barlos, president of the county commissioners, said he s pleased the collaboration of governmental agencies is advancing the project. “It s more than just jobs, but obviously, 300 jobs is significant to any community,” he said.

Jay Black, Mayor Jack Ford s chief of staff, said backing the shipbuilding plan was important, given the potential development in the area of the Marina District and other projects. “It will bring a number of decent paying jobs to the city of Toledo,” Mr. Black said. “With the other things planned down the road, it s a nice fit for future development in near downtown Toledo. And it makes no sense to see those jobs go elsewhere.”

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