When President Obama told the nation that he wanted America to be a “magnet for jobs,” he envisioned an economy that invested in our country’s workforce and brought business to our shores.
And with last Thursday’s launch of the Bravante V from the Eastern Shipyard in Panama City, Fla., it’s clear that vision – and the hard work that followed – is paying off.
The Bravante V is a platform supply vessel owned by Boldini S.A., of Rio de Janiero, Brazil. But thanks to a $240.8 million loan guarantee from the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) in 2011, Boldini selected the Panama City-based Eastern Shipbuilding Company to construct Bravante V and four additional platform supply vessels over the next three-and-a-half years.
That equipment enabled them to construct ship panels more quickly than they had previously, when each was built by hand. The end result was lower costs and much higher, more cost-efficient productivity at Eastern Shipyard.
Thanks in large part to federal investments and the improvements they provided, Eastern manufactures an average of 18 vessels per year, delivering each on or ahead of schedule. More vessels create more business, and more jobs.
The Bravante V and Boldini’s four remaining vessels are perfect examples of what we can achieve when the public and private sectors work together. Our partnership with Eastern helped convince a foreign company to invest in U.S. workers, and now hundreds of men and women in Panama City have good jobs as a result.
That’s why MARAD has guaranteed nearly $2 billion in Title XI loans for shipyard projects around the country, and it’s why we’ve invested nearly $10 million in small shipyard grants in the past year. That money helps attract business to American manufacturers, creating jobs for American workers.
In the bigger picture, partnerships like this will help achieve President Obama’s goal of doubling our country’s exports by 2015. Eastern’s success will also send a powerful message to the international community: U.S. shipbuilders can – and will – compete successfully worldwide. As Boldini adds five American-built vessels to its Brazilian fleet, those ships will become everyday reminders of the skill and strength of our nation’s workforce.
This is a very exciting time for the U.S. maritime industry, and last Thursday’s launch of the Bravante V shows there is real reason for optimism in the near future.