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Marinette Marine hiring; official details shipbuilding to tech students

March 29, 2012
By LISA M. HOFFMANN - Staff Writer , The Daily News

KINGSFORD - Marinette Marine Corp. is looking to hire area high school graduates.

Bruce Halverson, Quality Assurance Manager of Marinette Marine, presented information on Wednesday to students in the building trades, auto tech, welding and mechanics and pre-engineering and robotics students at the Dickinson-Iron Technical Center in Kingsford.

His presentation focused on employment opportunities and hiring practices for the shipbuilding company.

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Halverson said MMC, a Fincantieri Co., has a tremendous opportunity for employment.

The company is currently contracted to build ships for the U.S. Navy. Four of those are under construction, and nine ship contracts are to be determined yet. The company has $715 million in new Navy contracts. Marinette Marine already has 1,200 shipyard workers building the Navy's littoral combat ships in Marinette.

The U.S. Navy wants 55 to 57 more ships, and by December MMC will get half that order, Halverson told the students.

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Bruce Halverson, Quality Assurance Manager of Marinette Marine Corp., explains shipbuilding to students at the Dickinson-Iron Technical Center in Kingsford.
Theresa Peterson/Daily News Photo

"There is a lot of employment opportunities in shipbuilding," Halverson said.

Marinette Marine Corp. is located in Marinette, Wis. on the Menominee River. The company was founded in 1942 and has since built 1,500 commercial and military vessels.

"When you build a ship, you build a floating city," he said.

Area high school students watched videos of littoral combat ready ships built by Marinette Marine and tested on the waters of Lake Michigan.

One of those ships was the USS Freedom (LCS 1). Halverson said this ship was named after the town of Freedom, Wis., commissioned in Milwaukee on Nov. 8, 2008 and is home-ported in San Diego.

The ship is capable of minesweeping and humanitarian relief, can conduct a variety of missions in shallow waters and is capable of going 40 knots, or 46 mph.

Marinette Marine is constructing the Fisheries Service Vessel (FSV 6). This Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) is for fishery research and will be used in the Antarctica by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The company is also building the Navy's Ship-to-Shore Connector system. This is a replacement system for the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC).

This summer, Marinette Marine will deliver the USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) to the U.S. Navy. The Freedom class littoral combat ship of the U.S. Navy is named after Fort Worth, Texas.

Halverson said with improvements to speed and efficiency of the shipyard process, Marinette Marine now has the capability to build 460-foot combat ships indoors.

All ships start as a flat plate and are then shaped with a few angles and T-bars. Halverson said approximately 30 to 40 flat plates go through module construction. Once they are welded and piped, they are painted and start to become a ship, he said.

"It's an amazing process of building a ship," Halverson said of the work done at Marinette Marine.

The ship metal is blasted or it wouldn't survive its 30-year lifespan in salt water.

Without protection, the ship will not last more than five years.

In describing the ships to the students, Halverson said they are like a "scaled up jet ski."

The ships can turn 90 degrees, stop at top speed in six ship lengths and reach speeds of 40 knots.

"Littoral combat ships can reach the enemy anytime anywhere," he said. "The Navy has a ship that can do everything."

Halverson noted that in 1588, ships were made out of wood.

Marinette Marine currently has 1,200 employees and is looking to hire 300 more employees in the next few months, and more as the company gets more vessel orders.

According to an economic impact study, 1,000 plus new jobs will be added during the 10 ship contract, and 5,000 plus more new or continued jobs in the community and state of Wisconsin.

Because the company is looking to hire more people, students were told of what type of training and education would be required to work at the shipbuilding company.

"Shipbuilding takes the skill to weld," Halverson said.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College offers welding, electric, mechanical and supervisory courses designed for those interested in working at Marinette Marine. Classes for welding, electrician, pipe-fitting at NWTC run up to eight weeks.

A ship constructor course is only offered at UW-Marinette.

Halverson said, "There is no other place in the country that teaches that."

Marinette Marine has a union work force with a benefits package.

For those who want to "work their way up," Marinette Marine offers a $9 an hour training program.

The company will hire high school graduates.

"It's not boring," Halverson said of working. "Every day is different. It's been a very satisfying job. I have enjoyed it."

The company does random drug tests on its employees.

Halverson said when accidents happen on the job, 30 to 40 percent of the time they are found to be drug-related.

Halverson concluded by saying, "It's not only a job but an education, too. If you work at Marinette Marine, you can go to another company and be star welder or star electrician."

Over the next few years, the company will also be looking to replace those lost by attrition or those who retire.

Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is lhoffmann@ironmountaindailynews.com.

 
 

 

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