Gulf Ship, LLC, a builder of proprietary hull designs for Edison Chouest Offshore and its affiliated companies, has only been in Harrison County for two years, but with its extensive employee training programs and other ongoing investments, it looks like the company will be a mainstay on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) is the most technologically advanced and fastest growing offshore vessel company in the world. They were founded in Galliano, Louisiana in 1960 and remain at the top of the shipbuilding industry. ECO is very unique in that they design, build, own and operate all of their vessels. Their high-tech, high-capacity offshore vessels range from 87 to 348 feet.
Gulf Ship is currently building ECO tractor tug ships. They weigh approximately 680 tons and have a construction time of approximately 10 to 11 months for four ships, with all work being completed on location.
Gulf Ship occupies a 37-acre site, located on the waterfront area of Bayou Bernard Industrial Park in Gulfport, Mississippi. The company currently employs 337, with future numbers expected to reach 600. Their intention is to have a $72 million capital investment in their facility upon completion.
Gulf Ship’s stay in Harrison County is expected to be a long one. They have just received a 5-year property tax exemption by the Harrison County Board of Supervisors and Gulfport City Council. In a recent article in the Sun Herald, Senior Vice President Roger White said, “We can build our workforce and see what’s going to happen eight to 10 years down the road. We picked Gulfport because of the workforce. We’re going to train them and keep them. We’re here for the long term.”
The success of Gulf Ship’s On the Job Training (OJT) program has not only attracted many valuable employees, it has attracted the attention of labor and employment officials in both Mississippi and Louisiana. Stephanie Edwards, OJT program coordinator, said, “We have been very successful here in helping to place so may people in jobs. Gulf Ship has paved the way for other Chouest companies to follow.” Gulf Ship also works extensively with local community colleges and the WIN Job Center to insure their employees get the workforce training needed to be successful.
The economic impact that Gulf Ship has on Harrison County is about $23 million per year and is expected to increase to $32 million. Future growth of the facility and company could even lead to the construction of icebreaker research ships, which are used in a US Antarctic Research Program. The presence of Gulf Ship in Harrison County will continue to create wealth in our community and greatly contributes to National security, as well as the oil industry.