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July 20, 2018

Front Street Shipyard to add up to 40 jobs as result of $667K federal grant

Courtesy / Front Street Shipyard
Courtesy / Front Street Shipyard
A rendering of the Front Street Shipyard shows (at lower left) Building 6, the 22,500-square-foot addition to the shipyard's facilities on Belfast's waterfront that is now under construction. When completed, Building 6 will accommodate large yacht refits and commercial vessel construction projects.

Front Street Shipyard expects to add up to 40 new jobs as a result of a $667,028 federal grant that will help fund its purchase and installation of a new waterjet cutting machine that will streamline the construction of custom and production vessels at its Belfast shipyard.

In its news release announcing the award through the U.S. Department of Transportation's 2018 MARAD Small Shipyard Grants program, Front Street said the new waterjet cutting machine will be the largest of its kind in Maine and have the capability of cutting nearly any material, including stainless steel and titanium, with reduced cost and improved quality.

"The Small Shipyard Grants award comes at an ideal time for Front Street Shipyard. Our facility expansion is underway and our new 22,500-square foot building will be ready to accept new customers this fall," said JB Turner, president and general manager of Front Street Shipyard. "The waterjet-cutting equipment we'll purchase with the grant will streamline the custom and production boat building projects we intend to take on with our new facility. We plan to hire up to 40 additional professionals to operate the new equipment and join our team of shipwrights."

Waterjet cutting machines use a high-pressure jet of water mixed with an abrasive substance to produce cuts with very clean edges that require little finishing. This saves time in several ways: It makes metal-cutting faster, reduces the time needed to prepare the metal surface for welding and makes more accurate cuts because shipwrights can cut parts directly from electronic data drawn by engineers.

The waterjet cutting machine will be installed in Building 6, the 22,500-square-foot addition to the shipyard's facilities on Belfast's waterfront that is now under construction. When completed, Building 6 will accommodate large yacht refits and commercial vessel construction projects.

"With a machine of this size and capability we hope to attract diverse projects, including non-marine applications," Turner added.

Enhancing global competitiveness

Courtesy / Front Street Shipyard
Courtesy / Front Street Shipyard
A carbon-fiber ferry built by Brodrene Aa, the Norwegian shipyard partnering with Front Street Shipyard in Belfast.

In a May 24 letter to retired Rear Adm. Mark H. Busby, administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, supported Front Street's grant application, stating the acquisition of a waterjet cutting machine would "help diversify the shipyard's service offerings to include a new production line, greatly enhancing its global competitiveness."

In particular, Collins and King highlighted Front Street's partnership with Brodene AA, a Norwegian boat builder that specializes in building carbon fiber ferries in Europe.

"The partnership has allowed Front Street to access a new and growing market for carbon fiber boats, further strengthening its status as a leading American shipyard in boatbuilding," the senators wrote in their letter.

Collins, who is chairwoman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, applauded the award from the MARAD Small Shipyard Grants program, whose purpose is foster efficiency, increase competitiveness and enhance the productivity of small shipyards in the United States.

"We're grateful to the DOT and thankful for the support of Senators Collins and King who advocated on our behalf," Turner said.

Read more

Front Street Shipyard’s Building 6 now ‘open for business’

Front Street Shipyard begins long-awaited expansion

Next 2017: JB Turner oversees Front Street Shipyard's impressive revival of Belfast's working waterfront

FAME decision advances Front Street Shipyard's expansion

$4M waterfront expansion could help bring Belfast ferry-building jobs

Front Street Shipyard launches partnership with Norwegian shipyard

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