Serving the needs of a breathless US naval industrial base, the Bartlett Maritime Corporation (BMC) will mobilise a contingent workforce for an undisclosed number of designated shipyards.

On 5 March 2024, Blueforge Alliance, a US technology integrator, contracted the Ohio-based company to deploy a rotational workforce of skilled labourers in support of US Navy shipbuilding and repair projects.

Since 2019, BMC has assisted the Navy in resolving its capacity and capability shortfall in the submarine construction and maintainence processes. This time around, the company will provide a group of trained welders under a $3m contract.

“We have a tremendous sense of urgency to help restore the industrial base the Navy needs, beginning with the skilled labourers in this rotational workforce,” remarked the founder and CEO, Edward Bartlett.

Currently, industrial primes General Dynamics Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of HII – the only two US shipyards capable of producing naval nuclear propulsion – are overwhelmed with the simultaneous construction of Virginia-class attack submarines (SSNs) and Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).

Both primes supply boats for the US naval force structure, which is struggling to outpace China’s count, while also delivering its AUKUS commitments to Australia.

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According to a Congressional Research Service report from mid-February 2024: “Navy and industry are working to build up the capacity of the submarine industrial base to support a 1+2.33 procurement rate by sometime after 2028.

“Building up the industrial base’s capacity to a 1+2.33 capacity will require investing several billion dollars for capital plant expansion and improvements and workforce development at both the two submarine-construction shipyards.”

In a scathing rebuke of the Navy’s industrial suppliers in February 2024, the US Secretary of the Navy, Carlos del Toro, observed that “many [suppliers] are making record profits—as evidenced by your quarterly financial statements—and while I am happy for you, you can’t be asking for the American taxpayer to make greater public investments while you continue to goose your stock prices through stock buybacks.”

The rotational shipyard workforce concept is the first part of BMC’s comprehensive proposal to add capacity and capability to the industrial base. BMC has also proposed to construct and operate component repair facilities in northeast Ohio with an option to build a new public naval shipyard in Charleston, South Carolina.

“We are confident this contract represents just the first step in BMC delivering solutions to meet the many pressing demands of the fleet,” Bartlett added. “We are eager to show the Navy that we can provide affordable, effective industrial capabilities at speed.”