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Support sought for Lordstown shipyard

LORDSTOWN — President Joe Biden and top U.S. defense officials have been asked to throw their support behind a Cleveland-area company’s plan to build and operate a submarine repair facility in Lorain and an equipment depot in Lordstown.

In a letter, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown seeks support for Bartlett Maritime Corp.’s proposal of Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, and urges the three to “act quickly to direct resources” from the National Security Supplemental Act — a $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan lawmakers approved in April.

Specifically, the package includes $3.3 billion to develop submarine infrastructure.

“Investing in these Ohio facilities would help to ensure the critical maintenance capacity necessary to execute our national security strategy of controlling undersea domains and help to optimize our Navy’s readiness,” the Democratic lawmaker from Ohio wrote in his May 30 letter.

CHANGE IN PLANS

Bartlett Maritime Corp., led by former Navy Capt. Ed Bartlett, proposed in early 2022 to build a new submarine drydock facility in Lorain and an affiliate supply, equipment and service depot in Lordstown. Those plans changed when the Navy rejected the idea of a submarine repair shipyard in the Great Lakes region, causing the company to modify its proposal, Bartlett said Monday.

The revised plan proposes a submarine equipment repair and test facility in Lorain and a submarine equipment depot in Lordstown.

“The Lordstown equipment depot will be initially stocked with multiple sets of new ‘rotatable pool’ submarine components, equipment and other material that will be kitted and shipped to an overhaul shipyard in advance of a submarine’s arrival for overhaul,” Bartlett said.

The site also would provide support for the operating submarine fleet.

The facility in Lorain would receive the equipment that has been in service at sea and is replaced on the overhauling submarine by the equipment from Lordstown. Workers in Lorain would refurbish, overhaul, rebuild and test the equipment, bring it back to ready for installation status and then ship it back to Lordstown for storage, kitting and use in another sub overhaul, Bartlett said.

By using a “rotatable pool” method, Bartlett said the time to overhaul a sub would be shortened from two years to four to eight months.

LETTER

Brown wrote it’s critical the U.S. invest in “strategies now to remain a global leader and maintain our edge in submarine technology,” over China and Russia.

“The first order of business must be getting our existing submarines out of maintenance limbo and back out to sea,” the letter states. “The proposed facilities in Lorain and Lordstown will deliver the capability and capacity to significantly reduce the months- or even years-long delays in shipbuilding the Navy is currently experiencing.”

By investing in a phase one contract, the company’s proposal “clears an immediately actionable path for near-term success in reducing the submarine maintenance backlog through provisions or specialized training and facilities.”

Bartlett said phase one is a detailed six-month planning and preparation phase. It will be used to determine the “exact specifications for each facility and to do program planning,” Bartlett said.

“Final planned employment and facility sizing will be a product of this effort. Bartlett Maritime expects that the facilities in each location will be significantly sized, with significant employment in each location,” Bartlett said.

The phase one contract is valued at less than $20 million, Bartlett said.

Said Guy Coviello, president / CEO of the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber, “This is a very exciting opportunity for the Valley. We will work closely with the senator’s office, with Lake to River Economic Development and with the Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission, and together, hopefully we will be successful.”

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Bartlett Maritime, meanwhile, in April signed a national labor agreement with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers union meant to mobilize skilled workers in the Midwest to support Navy programs.

The agreement allows the company to recruit from the Boilermakers construction sector members across the U.S. to work in naval shipbuilding as part of rotational teams trained by Bartlett. To do so, addendums to local union agreements would be required.

Del Toro sent his senior advisor to the signing in Cleveland.

A release from Bartlett Maritime states that according to Navy estimates, the submarine industry in the U.S. needs more than 140,000 new skilled laborers in the next decade. In March, the company was awarded a $3 million contract to begin providing a rotational workforce of skilled labor to support Navy shipbuilding and repair projects.

The funding is from the BlueForge Alliance, a defense nonprofit that supports the Navy’s submarine industrial base initiatives, a release states.

Have an interesting story? Contact Business Editor Ron Selak by email at rselak@tribtoday.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribToday.

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