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Clinton: Programs To Bring More Than $1 Billion To U.S. Yards

The Administration's shipbuilding initiative could result in more than $1 billion in orders for American shipyards, supporting thousands of jobs for American workers and signaling the industry's rebirth, President Clinton said.

"Our work for our maritime industries reflects what we're doing for the economy as a whole," Mr. Clinton said. "Given the right tools and opportunities, our shipbuilders can out-produce any competitors in the world. And American workers and American ingenuity can keep building a new prosperity across our country. Together, we will make it happen." "The President's shipbuilding initiative is one part of our overall effort to ensure America's future as a maritime nation," Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena said. "Our proposed Maritime Security and Trade Act will ensure that merchant ships will continue to fly the American flag and be crewed by American seafarers. We urge Congress to enact it into law before the year is out." As part of the program to boost the American shipbuilding industry, the President announced approval of a $115 million loan guarantee to help Coastal Ship, Inc., Houston, finance construction of U.S.-flag RoRo barges to be built by Trinity Marine Group, Gulfport, Miss. The project is expected to support about 600jobs for American shipyard workers.

Under legislation enacted last year, shipyard modernization projects are now also eligible for guarantees. The President announced approval of a federal loan guarantee for National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) of San Diego. NASSCO will use the $22.7 million loan guarantee to invest in modern and advanced shipbuilding technologies.

In a May, 1992 visit to NASSCO, Mr. Clinton talked about the need to convert industries dependent upon military contracts to commercial uses.

Today the President said, "We now have proof positive that we can built real partnerships between government and private industry to preserve thousands of American jobs and create thousands of new jobs using the unique skills of defense workers for civilian commerce." Under the ship financing program administered by the Maritime Administration (MarAd), the government does not make direct loans.

Funds are secured in the private sector with repayment guaranteed by the government.

As the President requested, last year's legislation also expanded the program to foreign buyers who build ships in the U.S. Historically, the program was limited to U.S. purchasers. MarAd is now reviewing two applications to help finance ships to be built for export, the President said. The Saracen Group, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, requested $726 million in guarantees to support construction of 30 multipurpose containerships at McDermott Shipyard in Louisiana. The project would support an estimated 2,600 shipyard jobs.

In addition, Fleves Shipping Corp., Piraeus, Greece, has applied for a $133 million loan guarantee to build four oceangoing product tankers at Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) in Newport News, Va. The project would support an estimated 500 shipyard jobs.

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