Mare Island marine services company takes on new name, polished vision
Mare Island marine services company takes on new name, polished vision By Jessica A. York/Times-Herald staff writer - Vallejo Times Herald Published: Jan 27, 2013, 1:01 AM Updated: Jan 27, 2013, 1:03 AM As one of Mare Island's newest kids on the marine industry block enters its third year of business, the company is turning over a new leaf in both image and game plan, officials say. In hopes of conveying a more well-rounded marine services business plan, the former Allied Defense Recycling changed its name late last year to Mare Island Ship Yard, and has been slowly working the new moniker into its business contracts. "We are not a scrapyard. We are a full-service shipyard. Including dismantling, it also includes repairs and it includes new ship building," Mare Island Ship Yard safety manager Suzanne Castleman said. "We're trying to bring this waterfront back to the glory it was prior. It's going to take some time. It's not going to happen overnight." Similarly, the company -- which has tried on several names since arriving at Mare Island -- is shifting some of its focus from federal mothballed ship-dismantling, the company's early planned major source for funding. The business occupies two of the former naval base's massive in-ground dry docks. Officials have begun talks with both city Planning Division officials and potential customers about adding shipbuilding to the company's repertoire. City senior planner Michelle Hightower confirmed she and Mare Island Ship Yard officials have had preliminary discussions about the potential to expand the company's use permit description. Since opening for business in late 2010, Mare Island Ship Yard has dismantled five vessels -- only two were big-ticket business from the nearby U.S. Maritime Administration-managed Suisun Bay Reserve "Mothball" Fleet. By far, the bulk of the company's time has been spent on ship repair work, said shipyard general manager and company partner Gary Whitney. "You have to be all-inclusive. You can't be singular in nature -- the business won't survive," Whitney explained. "So you have to look at all the aspects of the marine industry. What's out there? What can you do? How can you grow into it?" Contract work has kept the shipyard staffed at least 40 full-time employees at the low end, and peaking at much higher during big jobs, company officials said. Whitney and company chief engineer Werner Hoyt estimated that they are steadily inching toward an employee base of 120, first dreamed up in early planning talks for the company. "We are here for the long haul," Castleman said. "We are here to create jobs for the community; We are here to give back to the community." The company's partnership has also rearranged its business partnership lineup, with Washington state-based Shipwright Technologies coming aboard as a minority partner, officials said. That company's owner, Randolph Peterson, also runs Mare Island Rail Service, whose contract with island master developer Lennar Mare Island to operate on Mare Island ended at year's end. Whitney said Mare Island Ship Yard does not need rail service now, but to expand into ship building in the future, rail will be essential. The company also replaced former managing director Jay Anast with chief operating officer Nellie Perez, who had retired from running one of Mare Island Ship Yard's Texas-based competitors in recent years. For the first time, the company has also secured a $1.3 million contract to undertake the California Maritime Academy's T.S. Golden Bear's dockside annual spring overhaul work. Mare Island Ship Yard also plans to be in the running for a larger contract this summer, for the training vessel's once-every-five-years dry dock work, Whitney said. Cal Maritime officials welcomed a fellow Vallejo business into the bidding process. "We're thrilled because it's another Vallejo entity, that the money stays in Vallejo, that we get to work local, and that they're a startup company," said T.S. Golden Bear Capt. Harry Bolton. "More synergy can come from this down the road. We hope for (their) success for a lot of reasons."