Shipyard trades in purple for red
Last week, Coach Dwayne DuBois returned home to become head football coach of the Bridge City Cardinals.
There’s another homecoming this week as Harry Murdock announced his intent to return to Bridge City, bringing his shipyard with him.
Sterling Shipyard of Port Neches acquired a section of 400 acres at the foot of the Veterans’ Memorial and Rainbow Bridges on Highway 87 to build a facility there.
“They will develop ships and it will be a repair facility on a portion of the property,” said Bobby Fillyaw, director of the Orange County Economic Development Corporation who arranged the deal. “It’ll grow and produce about 200 jobs.”
Fillyaw added the OCEDC is also working with other companies to utilize the remaining 400 acre property. “It’s a win for the county. They’ll need some infrastructure down there and beef-up their electrical system,” he said. In addition to the permanent jobs, there will also be construction jobs created building the facility, Fillyaw said. “This will be added revenue for the school district and for Bridge City. It will have a multiplier effect,” he said. Fillyaw said the financial portion of the deal is still being worked on and he doesn’t have an exact amount as of yet what the total investment will be. On a down note, however, Fillyaw said low gasoline prices are hampering development in the energy sector the county relies upon. “We need a happy medium between low and high energy prices in reinvigorating the economy,” he said. He added prices need to stabilize for economic development to occur.
Murdock, president of Sterling Shipyard, said they chose the property in Bridge City because the channel will be deepened and widened and traffic will increase as a result. “It’s a good investment. We will move everything to Orange County. It’s a big cost to regroup. It will be nice,” he said. Murdock said Sterling hasn’t brought their plans before the Orange County Commissioners Court yet to receive any incentives. Funding, likewise, is still in the works as well as securing commercial electrical power. Murdock said the majority of their new construction and repair work are on barges and tow boats. “I’m glad to move back to Orange County. I worked at Orange Ship Building for 20-plus years,” Murdock said. “I live in Bridge City. This will help the school district and the city tax-wise. I live there and I like to spend my money there.”
Sterling Shipyard was established in January 2009 with the intent to provide shipyard services to local operators, according to company information. Sterling has since been able to work with many local and International companies as well as multiple United States governmental agencies. “Sterling Shipyard’s success stems from the fact that we are willing to accept any new challenge and are confident that we can successfully build and deliver any type of vessel that our client’s require, both on time and on budget,” the website read. “As Sterling progresses, we look forward to the continued diversification and growth of our portfolio of vessels which brings new challenges and ultimately grows the company. At Sterling, our employees are our greatest asset and each employee maintains a culture of: work safe, work smart and prove to the industry, our clients, and ourselves that there’s no better vessel than a Sterling built vessel.”
Sterling is currently one of the largest employers in Jefferson County with a workforce of 200. Sterling Shipyard uses Auto CAD capabilities, construction maintenance and repair of all types of vessels. The yard has a 1,350 ton capacity dry dock as well as a 900 ton capacity dry dock.