In the COVID era, the big problem for the NASSCO shipyard is the people – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense

General Dynamics NASSCO has made a name for itself in shipbuilding by being a Navy partner for support vessels, but half of the revenue comes from ship repair work. (DG NASSCO.)

SAN DIEGO: In the docks of General Dynamics NASSCO here is now a full hall of Navy ships. It ranges from first-in-class refueling oilman John Lewis (T-AO 205), who has just returned from naval testing, to the future John Canley Expeditionary Naval Base (ESB 6), which is still under construction, and the Princeton cruiser CG 59), with sailors nearby awaiting the next period.

This is a big job that requires a lot of manpower. And while inspecting the facility on a rainy Tuesday morning, a company official spoke out on the yard’s biggest problem: NASSCO can’t hire new workers fast enough to stay ahead of people leaving or leaving the industry.

“This is our biggest problem, it’s the people right now,” said in an interview with Breaking Defense Peter Radzicki, manager of strategic planning for new construction at NASSCO.

In addition to labor shortages, the shipyard is also constantly fighting federal budget delaya struggle to which the defense industry is accustomed, but especially painful in the era of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The main thing is that they know they want a bunch of these oilmen – it’s important for us to get more than six to order to get stability and what we need to predict for the future,” he said. If the shipyard and navy “can’t get a clear idea of ​​the rest of the ship’s load, we slow down. We are not progressing. “

The national labor shortage that came along with coronavirus pandemic felt by most industries. But there are several reasons why this is particularly hard on shipbuilding. The first is highly skilled workers who receive extensive training just to get started.

Another problem arose during the coronavirus era vaccine mandates. The cramped spaces needed for shipbuilding make social distancing impractical or impossible. In October 2021, the Maine Shipbuilders ’Union, where Bath Iron Works is located, became a major headline due to objections to the federal government’s mandate for vaccines for federal contractors.

Radzicki did not discuss specific staff figures during the interview, but he said NASSCO did not follow instructions and requirements from California health authorities, which he said are usually stricter than the federal government.

“Exhaustion is more than ever. People go from job to job. You have more remote employment options that people are jumping on, ”he said. “We attracted a lot of people, trained a lot of people, but at the same time we saw them come out the door.”

During Tuesday’s visit, NASSCO had five future naval ships undergoing various stages of construction, including three oil refills and two expeditionary naval bases.

While the shipyard is best known for the various support vessels it produces for the Navy, about half of its revenue comes from shipbuilding, the portfolio is also mostly booked by the U.S. Navy. Two cruisers, a destroyer and an amphibious dock were in service this week.

Moving forward, NASSCO is closely monitoring the movement of the Navy on various new vessels for which the service has sought advice in industries such as cable repair vessels and seagoing vessels. The company is also considering rebuilding its floating dry dock, which is nearing the end of its service life. Radzicki said he hoped that in the new year there would be a rise in employment, which the company wanted so much, but spoke directly about the impact of the pandemic.

“Now we are at the point where we are optimistic that the pandemic effort is subsiding – that the pandemic is subsiding, but we have not really seen this with the growth of the workforce,” he said. “It has really supported our workforce at a constant level.” In the COVID era, the big problem for the NASSCO shipyard is the people – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense

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