By Lance Henderson
Bellingham-based All American Marine, a local boat maker, has been awarded $297,827, as part of more than $7 million awarded to 10 shipyards in Washington state through the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Supplemental Grants for Assistance to Small Shipyards program.
MARAD released 70 grants totaling $98 million for small shipyards across the country. Washington Sen. Patty Murray worked to include the grant money as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and Washington’s 10 projects received more money than any other state.
“I’m thrilled that 10 more Washington state shipyards will get this crucial financial boost to help them create jobs and make vital capital improvements,” Murray said in a press release. “Our small shipyards are a critical piece of our domestic maritime industry — and of Washington state’s economy. Especially while our economy is struggling, these grants are important to help our domestic shipping industry stay strong and competitive.”
Matt Mullett, managing partner for All American Marine, said he is extremely grateful for the federal money and agrees with the federal government’s decision to invest in maritime manufacturing.
“The government really feels we need to preserve shipbuilding in this country, because if we outsource vessel construction that trade will go by the wayside,” Mullett said.
With the grant money, Mullett said, the company plans to upgrade its welding and painting equipment, purchase a forklift and make some internal structural changes to a mezzanine system, which will allow all trades to have better access to vessels and work more efficiently.
“It’s our version of Lean,” Mullett said. “We are trying to minimize the steps everyone has to take, which is one of the goals of this grant.”
Over the past 16 months, Mullett said, the company’s clients have been taking a “wait-and-see” attitude toward new boat orders.
“At the beginning of this year, we were concerned,” he said. “We had a few pending jobs, but it took a long time for anything to materialize.”
But Mullett said things seem to be turning around. On top of the company’s federal shot in the arm, more orders are now starting to come in. The company is working on two commuter vessels that will travel the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey, a low-wake ferry for Kitsap Transit, and a 35-foot patrol boat. They are also working on four 30-foot launches for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“We are extremely thankful for the bullets we have dodged over the last year. We see blue sky ahead,” Mullett said.