Coast Guard Ship Repair Spares Some Jobs In Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Talk of slashing federal budgets may have the ax falling elsewhere in Maryland, but not the Coast Guard yard in Baltimore.

Alex DeMetrick reports workers there received some very welcome news from Uncle Sam.

The Coast Guard tall ship “Eagle” is sitting high out of the water for repairs at the shipyard in Curtis Bay.

It’s here because “this is the only Coast Guard shipyard; the one and only,” said Rich Murphy, U.S. Coast Guard.

That may help with job security for 500 local workers. But with cuts in defense looming, a little extra assurance doesn’t hurt. It arrived Tuesday with $61 million in federal funding.

“To ensure that five cutters between now and 2014 will be prepared, will be modernized, will be retrofitted right here at the Coast Guard yard,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland.

Guaranteed work, even for just a couple of years, is welcome news and hope for more.

“I’ve only been here six years, and I plan on retiring from here,” said Reese Scott, painter. “So the more jobs we can get coming in, I’m really excited about.”

“I’m blessed because a lot of people out here don’t have jobs, are losing jobs,” said Michael Anderson, paint shop. “So we’re pretty fortunate out here.”

Repairing five older Coast Guard cutters is also cheaper than buying new.

“It would have cost over $2 billion.  These ships don’t come cheap,” said Mikulski.

Work done here makes it possible for the Coast Guard to go out in weather that would keep anyone else home.

“Our boats need to be in condition to get out there in very challenging conditions,” Murphy said. “Mother Nature is a very tough customer.”

So are winds of economic change, which are blowing past Baltimore’s Coast Guard yard, for now.

The Coast Guard’s shipyard has been here since 1899. During its peak during the 1940s, as many as 4,000 Baltimore employees worked there.

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