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Metro Machine Corporation

On 31 October 2011 - General Dynamics completed its acquisition of Metro Machine Corp., a leading East Coast surface-ship repair company that supports the U.S. Navy fleet in Norfolk, Va. The value of the cash transaction has not been disclosed. Metro Machine Corp. now becomes part of the shipbuilding and repair operations of San Diego-based General Dynamics NASSCO, a leading provider of ships to the Navy, a major producer of commercial vessels and the largest shipbuilding and repair company on the West Coast.

METRO Machine Corp is a full service shipyard with locations in Norfolk VA, Chester, PA, Philadelphia PA, and Erie PA. Metro Machine Corporation was incorporated in 1963. The company originated as a machine shop employing six men in support of local industry. The parent division in Norfolk VA has been conducting US Navy ship repair and conversions since 1972. In 1987 the company became employee-owned with increased work force participation in most management decisions. Profits go to the employee pension fund.

Metro Machine operates a Norfolk shipyard which includes the docks and warehouses of the Imperial Tobacco Company and the property of the former Old Dominion Shipyard located in the Berkley Section of Norfolk. This facility was progressively upgraded by the addition of machinery and equipment to provide modern facilities.These contracts also provide program stability and incentive for the contractor to plan for facilities investment and provide a level loading that results in improved contractor efficiency and cost savings.

The original work site was on Olney Road in Norfolk adjacent to the Midtown Tunnel. This site is currently used by Mid-Atlantic Steel and Boat Works, Metro Machine's structural fabrication department. In 1966, Metro Machine was awarded a Master Ship Repair Contract with the United States Navy. This started the company in "downriver" ship repair work at the Norfolk Naval Base and the Little Creek Amphibious Base. This work was the mainstay of its business until 1971.

The Norfolk yard does repair and phased maintenance work on Navy vessels, with two dry docks on the Elizabeth river next to Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock (NORSHIPCO). Metro Machine's Norfolk shipyard includes the docks and warehouses of the Imperial Tobacco Company and the property of the former Old Dominion Shipyard located in the Berkley Section of Norfolk. In 1971, Metro Machine acquired and moved to the docks and warehouses of the Imperial Tobacco Company located in the Berkley Section of Norfolk. This facility was progressively upgraded by the addition of machinery and equipment to provide modern facilities for "topside" ship repair and overhaul work. The company concentrated on the "topside" naval ship overhaul market from 1971 until 1982. In 1980, Metro Machine acquired the property of the former Old Dominion Shipyard adjacent to its Imperial Docks property. This property doubled Metro's real estate. In 1982, the 14,500 ton lift floating drydock "Old Dominion" was purchased new and placed in service by Metro Machine. The first U.S. Navy ship to be drydocked on "Old Dominion" was USS MOINESTER (FF-1097). In 1986 and 1987, Metro expanded the capacity of Old Dominion to accommodate LPH, DD-963 and CG-47 ships. Between 1983 and 1988, Metro Machine began competing for the U.S. Navy's Phased Maintenance Programs. Contracts for LSD-41 and LST Class Ships were awarded in 1985. Contracts for LPH's and LPD's were awarded in 1986. Metro Machine was awarded a second Phased Maintenance cycle for the LSD-41 Class as well as LPD's and LPH's in 1990. Metro Machine became the East Coast's largest Phased Maintenance Contractor with the award of the CG contract in 1992. In October 1993, Metro Machine Corporation was awarded the U.S. Navy AEGIS Excellence Award for demonstrating superior performance in quality, reliability, delivery and cost during the recent USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) overhaul. This program was established in 1971. In the years since, no repair yard has ever been recognized.

Metro Machine was planning to build a dry dock and shipyard on 173,000 square feet of publicly-owned submerged lands and uplands within the Fort Clinch Aquatic Preserve, off the Northeast coast of Florida. The ship yard was intended to be used in part for maintenance, refurbishment, and repair of Navy frigates and destroyers based in Mayport in response to a Navy request for proposals (RFP) to do that work. On 24 July 1997 the Navy cancelled that RFP, and in early 1999 Metro lost the renewed competition.

Since March 1997 Metro had slashed payroll at its empty Norfolk shipyard by more than 400 workers. The company ran out of work and had nothing scheduled until August 1997, when an off-site contract began in New Jersey.

Metro Machine bounced back from lean times in early 1997, and by early 1999 its employment was again about 500 in Norfolk. The yard has a steady stream of work scheduled for the rest of 1999 and is bidding for other work that could fill the remaining holes in its schedule. Several amphibious ships are part of a five-year, five-ship phased maintenance contract worth more than $100 million that Metro Machine won in 1997. Each of the ships are scheduled to visit the yard at least twice by 2002.

Metro Machine is conducting several shipbuilding research and development programs, including a contained blasting enclosure to protect both air and water and the design of an environmentally-friendly double hull oil tanker. The Compliant All Position Enclosure (CAPE) system was developed in Metro Machine's Norfolk facility in response to competitive pressures, environmental protection issues and the need to improve worker safety in shipyards. It is designed to prevent fuel oil, lube oil, hydraulic oil, grease, abrasive dust and paint overspray from being picked up by storm water runoff, contaminating the surrounding waters. The CAPE system is presented as a practical solution to enclose hull blasting and coating in a controlled environment. It consists of a series of steel staging towers, enclosed at the back, connected and sealed around one quadrant of a ship's hull. The ends are then closed and sealed to the hull. Each tower contains a movable work platform that scissors in and out to maintain hull proximity. A CAPE support vessel contains the mechanical systems necessary to control volatile organic compounds, dust, temperature and humidity inside the enclosure. Work can be done in all types of weather and no contaminants are allowed to leave the enclosure into the air or water. The stated goals of using the CAPE system are to meet all existing and anticipated environmental regulations ; improve the quality and durability of the coatings applied; reduce coating time, dry dock time and ship out of service time; and lower the cost of coating ships' hulls.

In June 2000 NORSHIPCO, a member of the United States Marine Repair (USMR) family of ship repair yards, and Metro Machine Corporation agreed to enter into a teaming arrangement, enabling the two companies to heighten the level of services provided to the United States Navy. This teaming arrangement will provide the Navy with the private sector capability and capacity in the Norfolk homeport to accomplish the large complex ship repair jobs, while simultaneously performing other scheduled Navy ship repair work. As a result, the ship crews will not have to leave Norfolk to have work performed in shipyards located outside of the ship's homeport area.



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