VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula will receive $12.5 million for a new drydock and $1.5 million for workforce training, according to the Mississippi Development Authority. The company says it’ll add about 900 workers and that adds up to about $15,555 per job.
The contract for engineering and design costs of the new icebreakers, along with long-lead time materials and construction costs was awarded on April 23. Construction on the first of three heavy icebreakers is scheduled to begin in 2021, with delivery on the first ship planned for 2024. If all of the options in the contract are realized, it could add up to $1.9 billion.
The icebreakers are desperately needed, as the Coast Guard’s lone remaining heavy icebreaker, the USCGC Polar Star, is overdue for replacement and is dealing with serious mechanical difficulties. The Coast Guard also has a medium icebreaker, the USCG Healy, that isn’t as capable an icebreaker as the Polar Star.
VT Halter has built most of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fleet of research ships, missile boats for the Egyptian Navy, towed sonar array ships and accommodation barges for the U.S. Navy and landing ships for the U.S. Army.
VT Halter isn’t the only Mississippi shipyard receiving a handout from taxpayers despite lucrative U.S. Navy and Coast Guard contracts.
Since 2004, Huntington Ingalls Industries has received $307 million from state bonds to help fund improvements at its Pascagoula shipyard, which is one of the state’s largest employers with 11,000 workers and a construction contract backlog with the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard of $12.37 billion.
The company will receive another $45 million after the Legislature approved a payment in this year’s session.
The Pascagoula yard builds the America and San Antonio classes of amphibious warfare ships, the Arleigh Burke class destroyers and the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter, the Bertholf class.