SALISBURY, Md.- Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury on Tuesday got the "green light" from the Wicomico County Council to use an off-site area to deposit dredge soil. The company said this will allow it to take on some new projects, which could mean more local jobs for the area.
With council's approval, Chesapeake Shipbuilding will use a county site known as Sharps Point for its dredge materials at a rate of $15 per cubic yard. According to the company, it is the first step in a plan to bring more shipbuilding contracts, and more jobs, to Delmarva.
Due to rain and runoff, deposits of silt have accumulated in the basins at Chesapeake Shipbuilding. President Tony Severn said clearing them out will allow for larger vessels to be brought in.
"We're bidding on some contracts with some pretty large vessels that would probably increase employment here 50 people, maybe 60 people for a two-year period," he explained.
In the past 30 years, about 50 or so ships have been built at the site. Even a sluggish economy has not stopped the demand.
"We've been blessed," Severn said. "We got some contracts right at the start of the economic downturn and they carried us through. And we picked up a few more contracts in the meantime, so some people say luck, I'd say we were blessed."
Some of the latest projects include the Red Hook: a 96-foot tugboat set to be launched in the fall. Crews are also working to restore a ship that suffered severe damage in a fire on the Great Lakes.
"To be able to say there's nobody of an equivalent size or nobody doing the same type of work within 150 miles says something," noted site superintendent Dan Melin. "It means that our workforce needs are unique and acquiring the people, we pretty much have to do it locally."
Medlin said adding more contracts will help contribute to the local economy.
"These guys who are working here, I would venture to say probably 90, 95 percent of them are all within this tri-county area."
Chesapeake Shipbuilding told WBOC a state permit is pending, and with county approval to deposit dredge material on its site, dredging should begin in a few weeks.
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