L-1998 welcomes shipbuilding orders

L-1998 Pres. and IR Robert C. Godinez, left, and Asst. Dir. – Shipbuilding and Marine Division Services Steven Beal, right, meet with Navy Sec. Ray Mabus in May.

NASSCO to design and build six product tankers

WITH SEVERAL THOUSAND Local 1998 (National City, Calif.) members laid off and a possible two-year gap in future orders, Boilermakers at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego were facing tough times as 2013 began. Those worries have diminished, however, following news of two new contracts for Jones Act product tankers and an announcement by the Navy that it would move up production of new fleet oilers.

Under the first contract, announced May 31, NASSCO will design and build four ships for an affiliate of American Petroleum Tankers (APT) with an option on four more. Each 610-ft.-long, 50,000-deadweight-ton tanker will have a 330,000-barrel cargo capacity and will be conversion-ready for liquefied natural gas (LNG) propulsion. NASSCO says the new “ECO design” ships offer improved fuel efficiency and incorporate the latest environmental protection features.

Construction of the first tanker is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2014, with deliveries scheduled to start in the fourth quarter of 2015 and continuing through 2016. The four-ship APT contract will mean approximately 800 jobs at the shipyard during construction and more than 165 seagoing union jobs during the operation of the vessels, NASSCO stated.

On Sept. 11, the company announced a contract for two additional ships of the same design for Seabulk Tankers Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of SEACOR Holdings Inc. Construction of the first tanker is scheduled to begin in late 2014, with deliveries scheduled for the second quarter of 2016 and first quarter of 2017.

Under the Jones Act, ships engaging in trade between two U.S. ports must be built in the United States, be U.S. owned and flagged, and be crewed by U.S. citizens.

The lodge also received good news on May 31 from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. During a meeting at the Pentagon, Bobby Godinez, L-1998 President and International Rep, and Steve Beal, Assistant Director – Shipbuilding and Marine Division Services, spoke with the Secretary about the cyclical nature of shipbuilding work and the risk of a deteriorating industrial base.

Secretary Mabus advised Godinez and Beal that the Navy plans to accelerate construction of a new generation of fleet oilers, called the TAO(X), moving the start date for a 26-ship order from 2018 to 2016. That change is likely to benefit both the NASSCO shipyard and the Huntington Ingalls yard in Pascagoula, where members of Local 696 are employed. Both shipyards, along with a nonunion facility, have contracted with the Navy to begin studying TAO(X) development.

L-1998 and NASSCO began contract talks for a new collective bargaining agreement in July of this year.