"This project means good jobs for Panama City today and a stronger economic future for our country," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Eastern Shipbuilding Group has built eight PSVs since 2003, with three more under construction. The vessels, built for Boldini S.A. of Rio de Janeiro, are estimated to result in 300 new local jobs over the next three-and-a-half years.
Demand for supply vessels for the Brazilian offshore drilling market has increased substantially. The supply ships will transport workers, supplies, parts and chemicals to offshore oil rigs. They will also serve as rescue and emergency response vessels, with extensive salvage, firefighting and medical facilities.
"Today's signing demonstrates that America's shipbuilders can be competitive in international markets," said Maritime Administrator David Matsuda, during a visit to the shipyard. "We will support these export opportunities for U.S. businesses and American shipyard workers wherever possible."
The Maritime Administration has previously provided federal assistance to Eastern Shipbuilding Group. In 2008, Eastern was awarded a $581,000 federal grant for shipyard software and equipment from the agency's Small Shipyard Grants Program. And in 1999, the Maritime Administration provided a federal guarantee on a $6 million loan to finance facility upgrades.
The Maritime Administration currently guarantees approximately $2.2 billion in U.S. shipyard projects, including construction of tugs, barges, dive support vessels, drill rigs, ferries, tankers, offshore supply vessels, and container vessels.