05/07/2019- The shoreline of the local shipyard has changed drastically during its 77-year history and perhaps some of the biggest developments are yet to come as Fincantieri Marinette Marine works to secure a pair of contracts that would have them building their largest ships to-date. Marinette’s Zoning Ordinance Board of Appeals considered a variance request from FMM Monday to allow them to construct a third erection bay nearly twice the height of the existing two. The company anticipates the official contract to build 4 multi-mission surface combatants for Saudi Arabia will be awarded to them next month and they’re also in the running for a 20-ship contract for the US Navy’s new frigate. Dale Samples with FMM says these vessels are larger than the current LCSs being built locally and they’d need to crank out two ships a year under the new contracts, meaning they’ll need to expand their production capabilities to meet customer demands.
Both the Secretary of the Navy and a representative from President Donald Trump’s office are expected to visit the shipyard in the coming weeks to learn more about their existing programs and capabilities. Samples says being able to demonstrate to these people FMM’s commitment to producing high-quality ships in a timely fashion through the construction of a third bay will weigh heavily into the decision of whether they’ll receive the highly sought-after frigate contract.
The Zoning Ordinance Board of Appeals ultimately approved the height variance request for the new erection bay. FMM will still need to secure other permits and approvals from the City before construction can begin. Samples hopes to have the project completed in the next 18 months.