East Coast: Derecktor: Bridgeport Expansion Opens Opportunities

Friday, February 21, 2003

Derecktor Shipbuilding has quietly gone about the business of building great boats, generally eschewing bold press headlines along the way. This has started to change, perhaps not by design but default as the boat builder has dramatically extended its fast ferry building capability (as well as that of the entire East Coast) with the completion of its 45,000 sq. ft. main assembly building at its facility in Bridgeport, Conn., marking the completion of the second building on this 23-acre site, which is part of the development of the Bridgeport Regional Maritime Complex in Bridgeport Harbor. The new main assembly building consists of one 300 x 100 x 75 ft. (clear height) assembly bay and one 300 x 50 x 50 ft. (clear height) assembly bay. This assembly building is the first of two main assembly halls to be constructed on the site which will provide a total of 168,000 sq. ft. of high bay area for the manufacture and service/repair of vessels ranging up to 400 ft. long.

No sooner than the building was completed that it was filled for another ceremony, with official on hand to mark the construction of an advanced new ferry for a much sought after client. Derecktor Shipyards was recently given notice by the State of Alaska to proceed for construction of a second high-speed ferry for the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS). This ferry, to be named the M/V Cheneg, is the second of a two-vessel contract worth a total of $67.98 Million. The official start of construction ceremony for the M/V Chenega was held at Derecktor Shipyards on Thursday, January 30. In February of 2002 Derecktor Shipyards was awarded the contract to design and build two high-speed passenger & automobile ferries as the first phase of Alaska's plans to re-tool its regional water transportation system with fast, modern, efficient, environmentally-friendly vessels.

The Building of Bridgeport

Other significant developments at the Bridgeport site include completing the retrofit of a 56,000 sq. ft. metal fabrication and sub assembly building in July of 2001, and waterfront improvements, scheduled for completion in September of 2003, which include 570 lineal ft. of bulkhead dredged to a depth of 18 ft. and 700 ton travel lift piers.

The Bridgeport facility is being designed and constructed as a modern, state-of-the-art manufacturing and service facility. Manufacturing facilities will include construction of a total of 290,000 sq. ft. of new buildings, including complete metal working shops with an on-site CNC plasma cutting operation, along with high-tech welding and finishing operations, dedicated outfitting and service areas, dedicated carpentry shops, and a fully climatized, 22,000 sq. ft. dedicated paint shop. The site has approximately 1,250 lineal ft. of protected deepwater frontage. On completion of the project, the frontage will include 500 ft. on the Harbor Channel with a channel depth of 35 ft. and 750 ft. of fully protected frontage on the Yellow Mill Channel with a permitted depth of 18 feet. Launching and retrieving of vessels will be accomplished using a 700-ton travel lift. A 2,500-ton dry dock facility for larger vessels is planned for the near future. The shipyard is expected to employ up to 250 persons when fully operational.

In 2002, four vessels were completed at this site. An 85-ft. freight boat for Fire Island Ferries, Inc. was delivered in June of 2002, and three 53-ft. passenger ferries were delivered in August and September of 2002 for New York Water Taxi.

Currently under construction is the first of two 239-ft. high-speed vehicle-ferries being built for the Alaska Marine Highway System. The first ferry is slated for delivery in December 2003. Preparations for building the second ferry are underway with a scheduled delivery of December 2004.

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