The Bethlehem Steel shipyard at Sparrows Point has received a $25 million contract from the U.S. Navy to overhaul a multi-section floating drydock based at the Norfolk Naval Base.
Work on the Sustain, the 552 foot-long, 124-foot-wide vessel, is expected to provide jobs for more than 650 people. The company plans to recall 650 furloughed workers needed for the project. The overhaul is to start in May and continue through October. Work will include steel repair and replacement, piping renewel, tank blasting and coating.
Bidding for the work was restricted to shipyards in the Navy's Norfolk home port, in which the Sparrows Point facility is included.
"The contract represents another significant step for the yard in its emergence from a very difficult period in the industry," said BethShip President David Watson. He credited Rep. Helen D. Bentley, R-2nd, for her work in getting Baltimore included in the Navy's Norfolk home port area, which made it possible for BethShip to bid on the contract.
Watson also noted the union's efforts to help the yard secure work. The ship workers agreed to sign a labor contract a year early in order to reassure customers that labor disputes would not interfere with work.
The contract settlement is credited with helping the yard win last month a $60 million contract to build tunnel sections for a highway under Boston harbor.
Bentley noted that the tunnel contract and the drydock overhaul help boost employment at the yard to approximately 800 workers through 1992. About 700 workers are currently employed at the yard, but employment has fluctuated widely and averaged only about 350 workers during this year.