Located in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan, the shipyard builds rugged and reliable vessels while also providing comprehensive repair and retrofitting services.
Bay Shipbuilding Company (BSC) boasts a ship construction heritage that dates back to 1918. It is an industry leader in construction of OPA-90 compliant vessels from tankers, to tank barges, to bulk carriers – and it has a distinguished reputation in producing other large commercial vessels. The shipyard’s portfolio includes double hull tank barges, combined articulated tug and barge units, offshore supply vessels, dredges, ferries and specialty vessels.
BSC operates as a division of the Fincantieri Marine Group (FMG). FMG has three shipyards – Marinette Marine Corporation in Marinette, Wis., ACE Marine in Green Bay, Wis., and Bay Shipbuilding Company. FMG shipyards construct vessels for commercial customers and the government (including the US Navy and Coast Guard). Fincantieri Marine Group is the US subsidiary of Fincantieri-Cantieri Navali Italiani SpA, one of Europe’s largest shipbuilders. Based in Trieste, Italy, the encompassing parent company has a 200-year history that includes construction of more than 7,000 ships. With about 10,000 employees – and operating eight shipyards in Italy – it is one of the world’s most prominent and diversified shipbuilding groups. It recently embarked on a capital improvement program directed to its US facilities.
BSC was an immediate beneficiary. Fincantieri’s capital investment translated into enhanced performance and quality levels leveraged by state-of-the-art, computer-aided manufacturing systems and equipment. The result has been increased capacity, reduced cost, and increased synergy within the Bay shipyard.
As with other shipyards falling under the FMG umbrella, Bay facilities are climate-controlled and purpose-designed for maximum manufacturing efficiency under the highest standards of quality control.
“Upgrades totaled about $25 million in new manufacturing facilities, automated welding capabilities, a test center, an operations and maintenance center as well as upgrades to painting and storage facilities,” reports FMG President and CEO Francesco Valente.”
Improvements transformed the shipyard into the best of the best. The location includes two graving docks (LGD is 1,154 feet by 140 feet, and the SGD is 225 feet by 39 feet), and a 600-foot by 70-foot floating dock. The 311 Building is a 78,000-squarefoot fully enclosed fabrication shop that’s equipped with CNC plasma burning, large block fabrication and outfitting capabilities. The automated blast and prime is equipped to handle both plate and shape, and the fully enclosed prep and paint facility can handle large equipment sections. In addition, the shipyard boasts an overhead crane with 170-ton lifting capacity. It all adds up to efficient and cost-effective solutions to complex shipbuilding and repair challenges.
Worker safety is a critical component of the process and a top priority focus for the shipyard. To this end, Bay has established comprehensive safety-training programs that are under regular review for improvements and upgrades.
“Our training program is a combination of classroom training, behavioral science and plant drills,” said Valente. “Safety is our first priority, followed by quality and customer service.”
A multi-service shipyard that sits on more than 50 acres, BSC offers numerous capabilities. Continues Valenti: “Our Large Graving Dock is one of only two on the Great Lakes that can handle thousand-foot vessels. We’re experienced at retrofitting ships to keep them seaworthy and compliant with Tier 2 and Tier 3 requirements, meaning we make vessel emissions adhere to environmental standards. Bay extends the service life of vessels traversing the Great Lakes and the oceans of the globe and we consider ourselves the premier shipyard of the Great Lakes region.”
SEASON COMES INTO THE EQUATION
“Each winter, a significant portion of the ‘Winter Fleet’ comes to Bay when the St. Lawrence Seaway closes down. Owners schedule planned maintenance, or downtime, in a period that extends from December to about mid-March,” says Valenti. It’s the “Ice Season,” and vessels need R&R – rest and repair. “Our repair services run the gamut – from hull repairs, interior structural renewals, painting, pipe systems replacement, to repowering to upgrades in navigation and communication systems.”
NEW DIRECTIONS – NEW CONTRACTS
Meanwhile, BSC continues its long-standing shipbuilding heritage, a direction underscored by recent contracts. Last year, BSC was contracted to build two US Flag, ABS Classed, 303-foot platform supply vessels (PSVs) for the New Orleans, La.-based Tidewater Marine, LLC. Landing this contract was important, as Tidewater Marine is a subsidiary of Tidewater Inc., one of the world’s largest providers of marine support services for the offshore energy industry.
These vessels – state-of-the-art ships that feature diesel-electric Z-drive propulsion, dynamic positioning (DPS-2), Polar Class Hull & Machinery (PC-7), fire-fighting class (FiFi 2) – are being constructed at the Sturgeon Bay shipyard. Valenti describes the impact for the company: “We’re transitioning from the OPA 90 tank barge market into the offshore, Arctic and deepwater markets. Construction of these deepwater platform support vessels will nurture FMG’s commercial business and leverage the yard’s deep and broad expertise in the ship construction sector.”
Valenti credits the quality of BSC’s new construction and repair capabilities to the quality and experience of his workforce. “Generations of families have worked for this company, and many of our more than 700 employees have been here for over 20 years. They were here when the vessels were first built and they know the ships inside and out. Because they see the same ships each winter, they know what can go wrong and know how to put things right.”
FUTURE: A CHAIN OF EXCELLENCE
Asked what the future holds for BSC, Valenti is to the point: “We will continue to build extraordinary vessels and to provide relevant after-sale service and repair support,” he says.
This business philosophy is the basis of Bay’s guarantee of superior service and on-time delivery, and it is the foundation of the company’s vision to provide complete marine solutions. Bay Shipbuilding is a world-class company and a vital link in a chain of excellence that spans the globe. The future for BSC looks as bright as a sunrise over the Great Lakes.