The Bethlehem Steel shipyard in Sparrows Point has won a $25 million contract to overhaul a floating Navy dry dock, a project that will provide jobs for more than 650 furloughed ship workers next year.
Work on the Sustain, a 552-foot-long, 124-foot-wide, multisection drydock based in Norfolk, Va., is to start in May and continue through October. Work will include steel repair and replacement, piping renewal, tank blasting and coating.
Bidding for the work was restricted to shipyards in the Navy's Norfolk home port area, 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 a 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 two contracts will help boost employment at the yard to about 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.