A $10 million-plus investment at the Port of Guam has not only revitalized a derelict area of the port but is generating additional jobs and workforce training.
Cabras Marine Corp. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 9 at the port to celebrate the opening of its Pacific Dry-Dock and Integrated Maintenance Facility.
Joseph L. Cruz president of Cabras Marine told the Journal the company has broadened its capabilities.
“What we’ve developed is an integrated maintenance facility “” he said.
The 5.4-acre footprint includes 700 feet of wharf front with a draft of 28 feet.
Aside from the dry dock – a major investment in itself – Cabras Marine has installed three facilities: for maintenance ship repair and a chassis shop for repair and preventive maintenance. The facility offers a shore power system and a welding shop in which Cabras Marine has invested more than $200 000.
“”It’s more efficient “” Cruz said. “”We never really had a facility here [at the port]; it was a place to park.””
The facility is primarily designed to service Cabras Marine assets in the region.
The dry dock which is 200 feet long and 50 feet wide was brought in from the Cabras location in Subic in the Philippines and rebuilt by Black Construction Corp.
Cruz said this was a preferable solution to purchasing a new dry dock. “”For this market price is a very sensitive issue. … Buying new assets means the price goes up.””
The dry dock is to first support the group’s fleet in Guam and Saipan which includes eight tug boats five barges and six crew boats.
The company expects it to be busy.
“”In the next seven months we have six dry docks to do of our own assets “” Cruz said. For industry-wide work he said “”Once we do that [internal work] externally we’ll be able to look at other work if it’s there.””
The work is not without oversight. Paul L. Blas general manager of Seabridge Inc. a subsidiary of Cabras Marine said “”It’s all supervised by the Coast Guard; all our vessels are U.S. flagged.””
The company assumed the former Casamar Guam Inc. property lease for 50 years though at a renegotiated rent. Casamar Guam was a ship repair and net assembly and repair facility serving the fishing industry.
Upgrading the dilapidated facility required what the executives said was the removal of “”tons of scrap metal”” and “”ten containers of old net-making equipment.”” Blas said “”The building was in really bad shape; it was a major cleanup that we had to do.””
The chassis shop is up and running. “”We are doing some major repairs and preventive maintenance. We do chassis repair for whoever wants it; right now it’s Matson [Navigation Co.] “” Blas said. Ten Guam hires staff that area of the facility. “”I’m excited about shaping a local workforce “” he said.
A temporary office has also been erected while further investment in the property is planned and executed.
Aside from its airport presence the majority of group business units will also move to the property to a group headquarters designed by Architects Laguana LLC. At that time the chassis shop will expand to a separate building. Occupancy is planned for March 2013.
“”We’re also going to have training facilities rather than send our guys to San Diego or Seattle “” Cruz said. U.S. Coast Guard-licensed trainers will certify staff on site in aspects of work including safety bridge management and firefighting. “”We may look at providing a marine training center “” he said.
Cabras Marine has also introduced a centrally-controlled system for its employees who receive daily assignments as they arrive.
Some 20 additional jobs have been added with employees drawn from the Northern Mariana Islands also but not enough to meet Cabras Marine needs for licensed personnel.
“”In the past we just used to employ master mariners; now we’re employing on the land side of it “” Cruz said.
“”As far as job creation we’ll definitely add to the workforce “” he said.
While the company would like to implement a shipyard apprenticeship program apprenticeships at Guam Community College will increase Cabras Marine personnel numbers. “”I believe there are four or five candidates heading there “” Blas said.
The company has need of a variety of skills to include carpenters electricians welders fitters riggers and painters. “”We were fortunate to find some skilled labor locally “” he said.
“”These are skill sets that are hard to find “” Cruz said.
The move of the dry dock to Guam and the expansion of Cabras Marine facilities has other benefits for the local economy. “”All the spend we need for supplies and equipment happens here “” Cruz said.