Getting Off On the Right Foot

Philadelphia, according to Wikipedia:
– is the largest city in Pennsylvania,
– is the sixth-most-populous city in the U.S.,
– is the fifty-first most populous city in the world,
– is home to about 1.5 million people,
– has a metropolitan area population of almost 6 million,
– is the nation’s fourth-largest urban area by population,
– and is the nation’s fourth-largest consumer media market.

Now that’s a town that has a lot going for it. Except savvy. The city is home to what used to be one of the world’s greatest shipyards. The Philadelphia Shipyard – or Navy Yard, if you prefer – was second to none in its heyday, and still has the potential to regain its former status.

It’s still a working yard, thanks to the Norwegians who plucked it from limbo a few years ago, and to give Aker Philadelphia Shipyard, Inc. (APSI) its due, the yard is still plugging away in spite of a lack of popular support. And that’s where the savvy is in short supply.

A February 17th Press Release from “The Street” discussed the new partnership between the APSI and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth will invest $ 42 million and gets all of the existing capital assets of APSI along with a few other goodies. What a deal! What a steal! Pennsylvania gets a working shipyard for a paltry $ 42 million, a commitment from APSI to fork over $ 210 million toward the completion of two oil tankers (its 17th and 18th ships), a further commitment from APSI to keep at least $ 50 million of its working capital in place, and secures employment for the 1,000 shipyard workers presently on the job.

The arrangement also dramatically increases the likely construction of two additional vessels, and in all probability, a likely increase in job opportunities. But those are just some of the numbers. Past studies have shown that for every on site shipyard worker, approximately 16 offsite supporting workers are required for backup, so the total number of jobs at stake is in the neighborhood of – who knows? – 15,000, maybe?

And believe it or not, some of the locals are badmouthing the deal. They’ll be changing their tune in the very near future, though. The benefits of Short Sea Shipping have come to the attention of transportation authorities, and the Shipyard is now ideally suited to capture a good portion of the early demand for these smaller, more flexible vessels.

And further, in recent years, little has been done to provide Jones Act vessels to U.S. carriers, but a resurgent APSI will be favorably positioned to replace the aging vessels in the U.S. fleet.

It isn’t often that government officials make a decision that proves to be in the best interests of the people, but in this case new Governor Tom Corbett got off on the right foot.