America’s maritime industry is critical to our nation’s economy. Federal investments in our ports and shipyards not only help keep goods moving for farmers and manufacturers; with more than 107,000 jobs in the U.S. shipbuilding and repairing industry, our investments also make a big difference to workers nationwide.
For example, when our Maritime Administration awarded more than $150 million to help foster modern, globally competitive shipyards through its Small Shipyard Grant Program, we put men and women to work in good jobs.
One of those workers is Steve Williams, a ship fitter with four decades of experience. He entered the industry in 1973 after a stint as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army Airborne:
"I was laid off in 2009 after more than 35 years of steady work, " Steve said. "I was in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and the opportunities just weren't there. You can't imagine the sudden uncertainty--almost as bad as jumping out of a plane.
"I did some research on ship work in Maryland and found General Ship Repair Corporation. Until that point, they had not been hiring, but I submitted an application anyway.
"Then, the shipyard got a grant from the Maritime Administration to build a new drydock, and suddenly they were looking for workers. In March, 2010, I was hired.
"Once we got the drydock built, General needed people to help them with the work the new drydock brought in. So they took me on.
“Finally, I was back doing the kind of work I had been trained to do, the work I was best at. And now that I've been with General Ship Repair for three years, I can't imagine myself anywhere else. I am truly grateful to the management at General.
"I'm also grateful to MARAD --all of us are-- for the grant that helped make it happen.
“Like I said, I was out there trying to find work and had even been willing to take a low-paying job in an entirely new state. But it was MARAD's investment in General Ship Repair that turned things around. It gave the company the ability to attract a new line of business and expand their operations.
“That grant created good jobs for me and my coworkers; it means something to a lot of people."