NC Shipyard Paint Facility Receives $1.3M Grant
The North Carolina Department of Transportation recently announced that the state shipyard paint facility in Manns Harbor has received a $1.3 million grant to improve conditions.
Awarded to the Ferry Division at the North Carolina State Shipyard, the grant from the U.S. Federal Transit Administration’s Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program, provides capital, planning and operating assistance to ferry services that serve rural communities.
“The shipyard is a major part of our maritime operations, and the money from this grant will help us improve that facility,” said Ferry Division Director Harold Thomas.
“We’d like to thank our congressional and community partners that helped us secure this important funding.”
According to the release, a study conducted by the Ferry Division revealed that fire-retardant paint on the steel beams in the shipyard’s paint facility was beginning to peel. Additionally, lighting inside the facility is reportedly not up to the standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Officials anticipated that the federal funding, plus a matching $336,000 from the Ferry Division, will remediate both issues.
Reports indicate that the $5.2 million paint facility was opened in 2010. The building would provide shelter to paint vessels in any weather conditions to prevent delays and save costs. Additionally, the building would contain paint overspray to protect the environment and nearby homes.
At the time, 60% of the shipyard’s labor was spent applying coatings, as it maintained 21 ferries in the state's fleet and were required to pass inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard. The shipyard also maintains support vessels such as dredges, a crane barge and several tugs, and offers a maintenance port for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Elizabeth II sailing replica ship.
Other Shipyard Painting News
In September last year, the U.S. Navy announced that it was standardizing wages for federal painters across all four public shipyards. The wage-grade increase was scheduled to take effect that month.
According to the release, the effort to standardize wage potential was led by the Naval Sustainment System–Shipyards (NSS-SY) People Pillar and required the coordination of the public shipyards, the Fleet and Defense Civilian Human Resource Offices. The increase is the first for top-tiered federal painters in 60 years.
While the previous top tier wage grade for federal painters fell at WG-9, the Naval Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications has announced the grade has now been set at WG-10. The increase will reportedly affect approximately 145 shipyard painters.
These painters are also eligible for competitive promotions, as well as expanded career growth opportunities for skilled tradespeople. The four public shipyards include Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine; Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia; Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Washington; and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Hawaii.
Rear Adm. Scott Brown, NSS-SY’s People Pillar lead, explained that the painting and coatings used now require “significantly more training and expertise” than when the previous wage-grade system was established.
The coatings work is completed to preserve metal surfaces exposed to the sea water, while their application must be done with specific environmental controls that account for heat and humidity. The paint must also be applied within thousandths of an inch to ensure proper adhesion and protection of the surfaces.
“Being a painter in a naval shipyard requires our people to be equal parts technical expert and artist,” Brown said.