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PHOENIX WORLD CITY Landmark Passenger Ship Intends To Boost U.S. Maritime Industry Into International Commercial Competition

The longstanding Phoenix World City project has taken on some exciting new dimensions since last reported on in these pages, new dimensions which make the billion dollar-plus, 250,000-grt passenger ship project an even stronger candidate to provide the spark to revitalize commercial shipbuilding in the U.S.

Since the building of the Phoenix World City could potentially provide an unprecedented boost to the U.S. maritime industry into the competitive international commercial market, a broad range of American shipyards, corporations and organizations are proposing creation of a new concept in shipbuilding to undertake the task; a "virtual shipyard" on a national scale.

To quickly recap, the 5,600-berth Phoenix World City is the brainchild of Knut Utstein Kloster, now chairman of the World City Corporation. In 1990, World City approached U.S.

shipyards for construction of the ship in the U.S. Members of the World City team visit the corporation's exhibit at the Centennial Exposition of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers in New York last month: (left to right) Knut Utstein Kloster, chairman; Tage Wandborg, senior architect and designer; John S.

Rogers, vice chairman and CEO; Richard Baumler, senior marine engineer; and James Dolan, recently retired senior vice president of American Bureau of Shipping.

22 for operation under the American flag. Avondale Industries contracted to complete the technical bid package for the ship, and the technical package has now been further updated by Newport News Shipbuilding.

According to John S. Rogers, CEO of World City Corp., Phoenix World City is now contract ready.

What is needed, he said, and what World City has been working to create, is a national shipyard consortium positioned to build the ship (which would be longer than a U.S. Navy Nimitzclass aircraft carrier) on a cost-effective basis.

In essence, World City is now trying to "build the shipyard to build the ship." The result: the virtual shipyard concept, for which World City and 52 other industry participants have joined in an application for funding under President Clinton's Technology Reinvestment Program (TRP).

Administered by the government's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), awards under the TRP program are expected to have been announced by October 1.

Given appropriate government support for its shipbuilding industry, hard-hit by declining defense work, Mr. Rogers believes that the first of a series of three Phoenix World City-class ships could go to contract within 12 months, "an ambitious time frame," he concedes, "but a doable one if all interests that stand to gain, both private and governmental, work together." A broad and diverse array of U.S. shipbuilders, corporations and organizations, ranging from the U.S. Navy to the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), and leading educational centers, to Fortune 500 companies such as Du Pont, AT&T, GE, Caterpillar and 3M, are proposing and planning the creation of the "virtual shipyard," a project that will combine and coordinate American industrial and technological resources into an integrated world-class commercial shipbuilding operation.

According to Mr. Rogers, the virtual shipyard is right for the U.S. industry because: it's market driven, based on a fully-developed product designed to tap and leverage major existing commercial revenue streams, not just in the $5- billion-plus cruise industry, but the 10-timeslarger meeting and conventions market; and it requires no change in legislation, as it capitalizes on existing tools and resources available to government.

 
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