U.S. Senator Bill Nelson toured a shipyard in Panama City Tuesday with the head of the Coast Guard, Admiral Paul F. Zukunft. The visit is meant to drum up excitement for a new $10 billion contract.
Earlier this year, the Eastern Shipbuilding Company beat out firms in Louisiana and Maine for a competitive contract with the Coast Guard. Over the next twenty years, the company will replace forty-five outdated cutter ships, and workers are already drafting designs. U.S. Senator Bill Nelson calls it the largest contract the Coast Guard has ever made.
“And needless to say the impact economically to the entire Northwest Florida, Gulf Coast area is going to be tremendous,” Nelson said.
And he says the improvements will help support the Coast Guard’s efforts around the world.
“The U.S. Coast Guard is this incredibly professional maritime organization. And what a lot of people don’t realize now is that they are so professional that the Navy and the Coast Guard trade off on protecting the seas,” Nelson said.
According to Nelson’s office, the $10 billion deal will create two thousand jobs in Panama City. The Coast Guard will ultimately use the ships to monitor criminal activity off the shores of Central America and Arctic sea lanes.