Bollinger: New Icebreakers Could be Built in Florida
As the U.S. Coast Guard continues planning for the construction of the new icebreakers it desperately needs, U.S. shipbuilder Bollinger Shipyards says it has a facility suitable to build them.
Bollinger says it has selected Tampa Shipyard for the design and construction of up to three heavy polar icebreakers, and three additional medium sized icebreakers under consideration by the U.S. Coast Guard.
“We are excited to respond to the Coast Guard’s need to recapitalize its depleted polar capabilities,” said Ben Bordelon, Bollinger’s President and CEO. “We expect to fill our capable production facility in Tampa with over 1,000 highly skilled full-time shipyard workers beginning as early as 2020. Just the three heavies alone could keep the facility fully utilized for nearly a decade. Should we be awarded the contract for the heavies and the anticipated mediums constructed in Tampa, we could be busy here through 2035. Along with the supporting infrastructure of vendors, subcontractors and suppliers, we would expect that locating this program in Tampa will have the benefit of well over 3,500 quality, high paying, full-time jobs with solid benefits packages.”
The U.S. Coast Guard last received new heavy icebreakers in the 1970s. Of the two that were commissioned in 1976 and 1977, only USCCG Polar Star remains as the nation’s sole remaining heavy icebreaker after USCGC Polar Sea was taken out of service in 2010. The less capable medium icebreaker USCGC Healy commissioned in 1999 is equipped to support research missions in polar waters.
“With the full support of President Trump, the U.S. Navy in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard under an integrated program office released the request for proposal for the procurement and detail design of the heavy icebreakers earlier this year. The Coast Guard and America will greatly benefit from these assets. The United States shipbuilding and Jones Act communities support and appreciate President Trump’s emphasis on domestic manufacturing and his administration’s dedication to improving America’s infrastructure,” Bordelon said.
Florida Governor Rick Scott said, “Florida is one of the best states in the nation for our military and I’m proud of the work we’ve done to bring jobs to our state. Florida’s talented workforce and Bollinger’s unique facilities in Tampa make it the perfect place for the Coast Guard Icebreaker Program.”
Bollinger currently is producing the Coast Guard’s Fast Response Cutter fleet at its facility in Lockport, La., where more than 1,000 full-time equivalents have been engaged since 2008. Under the current program, 29 vessels have been delivered to date. Bollinger anticipates this program to extend beyond 2023 with award and production of up to 58 vessels.
Bordelon stated, “We have built over 150 vessels for the Coast Guard in Louisiana beginning in the early 1980s. We anticipate taking our cumulative knowledge of this customer, our expertise in building complex vessels and serial production techniques to Florida and creating an even greater economic engine than we presently have.”