Marine business in these United States continues to get increasingly: A] Encouraging; B] Depressing; or C] Interesting, depending on who you talk to and at what time of day. The entire market, from inland to oceangoing, naval to commercial, is abuzz with activity. On the naval front, corporate intrigue has taken center stage as General Dynamics bids once again to acquire Newport News Shipbuilding. The major difference between the takeover attempt today versus the unsuccessful bid two years ago is the fact that Bill Fricks and the Newport New team is welcoming the offer, and all that remains is a thumbs up from shareholders and anti-trust concerns. Both parties, however, seem reasonably secure that the transaction will be completed in the third quarter, effectively creating a single source of nuclear submarine and aircraft construction in the U.S. General Dynamics, following the big defense consolidation surge, will dominate the U.S. shipbuilding market, owning four of the “Big Six” shipyards. On the commercial side, attention is adequately split between Washington D.C. and the Gulf of Mexico. In the nation’s capital, industry proponents are pushing for the re-installation of $100 million in funding for the popular Title XI program, which had its funding cut by the new administration to next to nothing. In the Gulf, suppliers, builders and operators eagerly await the much-anticipated Offshore surge, which by all many accounts should start rolling strong by the end of 2001; beginning of 2002 latest.