Patty in the News

BELLINGHAM - Fairhaven Shipyard will use a $1.3 million federal grant to add a crane and other improvements to its floating drydock on the southside waterfront.

Neil Turney, president of shipyard parent company Puglia Engineering, said the federal help was welcome.

"In the last two years, they've given millions to all our competitors and we never got a dime," Turney said.

About half the money will be used to equip the drydock Faithful Servant with an 80-ton crane, Turney said. The shipyard's existing crane can't be moved on and off the drydock.

The remaining money will be used to add sandblasting and painting equipment, and for wastewater treatment systems, Turney said.

The Faithful Servant is a converted submersible barge that Turney's company purchased in China to enable the servicing of larger vessels at the south side site it leases from the Port of Bellingham. The company then spent millions converting the vessel for shipyard use here.

The shipyard has been using the Faithful Servant since November, but it still needs some improvements to help the company recover its investment.

"There are items we need in order to make the new drydock function fully," Turney said. "This really, really helps."

Turney said the federal government provides financial aid to small shipyards to keep the industry competitive and provide good-paying jobs. The shipyard's local employment is about 150 people.

The grant was announced Thursday, April 15, by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. The grants came through the Maritime Administration's Supplemental Grants for Assistance to Small Shipyards program. Murray is chairwoman of the Transportation and Housing Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing funding for the Department of Transportation and Maritime Administration.

"Small shipyards in Washington state are a critical piece of our domestic maritime industry and our economy," Murray said in a press release. "Especially while families in Washington state continue to struggle, these grants are important to helping our domestic shipping industry stay strong and competitive."

- Bellingham Herald