Marinette Marine Corp.

When the U.S. military needs safe, secure water vessels, Marinette Marine Corp. (MMC) is a company they seek, President Chuck Goddard says. Based in Marinette, Wis., the firm specializes in designing and manufacturing small, medium and complex ships for the Navy and Coast Guard.

MMC started operations in 1942 to meet the country's demand for naval construction. Since then, it has evolved into a world-class shipbuilder with a portfolio of more than 1,500 vessels. “We are one of the big eight shipyards in the country,” Goddard says.

One important factor in MMC's success has been its workforce, which has met the arduous demands of its projects, Vice President of Manufacturing Duane Roehm says.

“We ask a lot of our workers,” he admits. “They volunteer to come in on their Saturdays when we're behind.”

Goddard agrees. “It's a lot of hard work by the individuals on the shop floors that bring the ships together," he says. “To see  our people shaping steel and seeing the work here is unlike many industries in the United States.”

Another factor in MMC's success is its ability to design and manufacture the ships on its own. According to Roehm, the company began doing both in the late 1980s, after originally hiring an agency to design its ships.

When MMC outsourced its designs, “You would get a design package that is not tailored to your shipyard,” Roehm remembers. “Every shipyard is a little bit different.”

In addition, by designing the crafts on its own, MMC increased the ability of the vessels to be produced. Roehm notes that the Coast Guard assisted the company in this respect.

Rigorous Cycles

To maintain manufacturing quality in its products, MMC operates with a rigorous inspection process. “We inspect our products sequentially as they go through the cycle,” Roehm says.

This includes inspecting the raw materials when they arrive at MMC's facility. For instance, when 40-foot steel plate arrives, they are immediately inspected, which is documented to ISO standards.

After the steel is cut into segments, those pieces are inspected again, Roehm says. “We make sure our material passes [the necessary qualifications],” he says. 

However, the most important day is a full-power, four-hour test run of the ship, Goddard says. “We [even] do a reversal at the end of the run, [where] you rapidly shift the ship in to reverse,” he says.

MMC is near completion of the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship LCS 3, which will make it the second ship MMC has built of the Freedom class, Goddard says.

High Goals

MMC is now watching the developments with the Armed Forces' budgets. “Defense, like any other, is getting cut back because of the mandate for deficient reduction,” Goddard says.

“Shipbuilding is typically $14 [billion] to $15 billion dollar a year of the Navy's procurement money, so that's going to be under pressure,” he admits, noting that an LCS costs less than $400 million. “The Navy's desire to retain 300 ships puts LCS in good stead as one of the best values in shipbuilding.” •mt

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