PASCAGOULA — A Pascagoula shipyard says it is working to lift a termination order from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prompted by a dispute over construction of a coastal mapping ship.
Bill Skinner, chief executive of VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, told The Sun Herald that NOAA terminated its latest contract for a 110-foot ocean and coastal mapping vessel, the SWATH Ferdinand R. Hassler.
Skinner said the vessel is 98 percent complete and has undergone sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Hassler is named after the first superintendent of the U.S. Survey of the Coast. Ferdinand Hassler took the position in 1816. After the survey was moved from the Navy to the Army in 1818, Hassler went to other duties, but returned in 1832 when the survey was returned to the Navy and remained the superintendent until 1843.
Skinner said the dispute with NOAA is over how much weight the vessel could carry.
Skinner said both sides are trying to resolve the problem, but there’s a possibility “that someone else will finish the job.”
Halter employs 1,600 at three shipyards in Jackson County and has a $1 billion backlog of work to do for the U.S. Navy.
“We look forward to resolving the dispute with NOAA. This is very important to us, our reputation for good quality vessels,” Skinner said.
Halter built four ships for NOAA before taking on the Hassler in a separate contract, Skinner said. He described the Hassler as a much smaller vessel that “performed outstandingly” during its sea trials.
“Its speed and sea-keeping characteristics exceeded our original expectations,” he said.
What became crucial was how much water the vessel draws with weight that NOAA expects to add to it over the 25-year life of the ship.
“We’re talking about a few inches,” Skinner said.
He said Halter’s backlog of Navy projects should take the company through 2013. If it fails to receive final payments from NOAA, that won’t affect jobs at the yards.
BEFORE YOU GO…
… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.
If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.Click for more info