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NASSCO Invests In Technology To Capture Commercial Business

Ongoing reduction in new U.S. Navy ordering has affected National Steel & Shipbuilding (NASSCO) as much as any other company. However the largest shipbuilder on the U.S. west coast is making the necessary moves to ensure it remains a viable shipbuilder and repairer for the naval and commercial markets.

Employing 3,700 at its San Diego facility, NASSCO offers new construction, conversion, repairs and design capabilities. The yard has been involved primarily in U.S. Navy work most recently, but to become a bigger player on the international shipbuilding and repair market, it has refocused efforts geared to attract commercial ship owners and operators.

Government work, however, remains a staple, and the yard is now working on three firm orders (and looking to receive three options) for large sealift vessels. NASSCO is also converting three container vessels to RoRos.

As a part of this effort, NASSCO received $22.7 million in Title XI loan guarantees in the late summer, funds to be used for shipyard modernization. "This program marks the first major step in the overall modernization of the shipyard," said Richard H. Vortmann, NASSCO's president.

Facility upgrades, to be completed by the third quarter of 1996, will include a major new onblock outfitting shop, a large-capacity steel plate roll, a computer-controlled plasma steel plate burning machine, a 175-ton heavy lift gantry crane, and more. All projects are geared to adding new technology and increasing efficiency, enabling NASSCO to compete for commercial contracts.

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