Shipyard chief's repair skills sought for retraining workers Shipyard afloat in controversy

October 14, 1990|By John H. Gormley Jr.

George W. Sloan hopes to transform the Fort McHenry Shipyard into a non-profit training facility, and he wants Dannie B. Hudson to run it.

With the backing of foundations, Mr. Sloan said, he hopes to buy the shipyard, which is now leased to Mr. Hudson, president of First Marine Manufacturing Inc., and his wife, Patricia Hudson.

With Mr. Hudson providing the technical knowledge, the shipyard would continue in its traditional role of repairing ships while helping workers learn new trades.

Without Mr. Sloan's intervention, First Marine faces an uncertain future. In July, the company filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Because of First Marine's continuing difficulties, including paying its workers, the office of the U.S. Trustee has asked the court to convert the case to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If the court agrees, First Marine will be forced to liquidate to pay off its $2 million in debts.

Mr. Sloan emphasized that he wants to buy the shipyard, not First Marine. He said he would like to have Mr. Hudson and his skills, but not First Marine's debt burden.

He does, however, hope to improve relations with the yard's suppliers who are owed money by First Marine, since the Fort McHenry-area yard will depend on many of those same suppliers.

Although Mr. Sloan does not want legal responsibility for the debts, he said he is willing to do whatever he can to see that the creditors are paid off eventually.

"Mr. Hudson will be a vital commodity to the continuation and success of my mission," Mr. Sloan said. "This is an opportunity for Mr. Hudson to get out of deep water. We want to see the vendors who serve that yard get their money back."

Mr. Sloan, who is affiliated with National Association of Neighborhoods in Washington, said he represents about 40 foundations. He declined to identify his backers.

His goal, he said, is to create a non-profit organization that will successfully compete for ship-repair business while training blue-collar workers who have limited prospects in an economy based more and more on technology and services.

Mr. Hudson would run the yard while passing on some of his skills to

the trainees. Mr. Hudson is highly regarded for his mechanical ability. He even owns a patent on a system designed to reduce fuel consumption and pollution in marine and industrial boilers that use black oil.

Mr. Sloan said work on the deal is well along. "We're very close, past the 50 percent mark," he said.

Mr. Hudson said he would own 49 percent and Mr. Sloan, 51 percent.

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