Mississippi shipyard expanding for Coast Guard icebreaker

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — A shipbuilder is expanding on the Mississippi Gulf Coast after receiving a $746 million contract to make a heavy icebreaker for the U.S. Coast Guard.

VT Halter Marine will invest $37.5 million at its Pascagoula shipyard and is expected to create 900 jobs the next five years, Mississippi officials said Tuesday.

The state's economic development agency, Mississippi Development Authority, is providing a $12.5 million grant for a dry dock and $1.5 million for workforce training.

The Navy announced in April that Halter Marine received the contract to build the Coast Guard's first new heavy icebreaker since 1976. It said most work will be done by Halter in Pascagoula, with about a quarter of the work in New Orleans and Metairie, Louisiana.

Rehabilitation and modernization of the Pascagoula shipyard will begin late this year, and VT Halter Marine expects to deliver the icebreaker in 2024.

"The company's new contract will enable our country to effectively fulfill missions in the world's polar regions," Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said in a news release Tuesday. "This is a tremendous victory for our state. ... Mississippi once again has proven our deep and abiding commitment to the armed forces."

Halter was chosen for the Coast Guard contract over two other finalists.

"Our design package, the local workforce and facilities in Pascagoula set VT Halter Marine apart from our competitors and made this win possible," Ronald Baczkowski , the president and CEO of VT Halter Marine, said in the news release Tuesday.

Singapore's government, through Temasek Holdings, owns 51 percent of Singapore Technologies Engineering. That company owns Halter.

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This story has been corrected to show the announcement was made Tuesday, not Monday.

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