Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pro & Con: Should taxpayers save Aker Phila Shipyard?

Susan Howland says US shipping faces unfair US and foreign rules, and the Aker Philadelphia yard deserves public support

Pro & Con: Should taxpayers save Aker Phila Shipyard?

Reader Susan Howland, former project manager at the Delaware River Maritime Enterprise Council (as my colleague Mike Armstrong points out), writes re whether PA should pump another $42 million into Aker Philadelphia Shipyard:

"The remaining large shipyards are controlled by two large DOD contractors--Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics -- and Northrup has announced it (is) consolidating and closing capacity....

"Despite their problems (Aker) is the most productive and most modern large shipyard in the US... New federal policies are being considered that would promote the construction of new dual use (meaning that the ships can be used for both commercial and military markets) ships.  Also, as new domestic energy markets evolve--including the gas industry here in PA--new ships will be needed to move product for both domestic and global markets. 
"The decisions regarding our shipyard are not just local issues--they are national industrial policy and national security issues and should be considered in the larger context.  For this reason, these are not easy decisions to make because they will have far reaching and strategic implications beyond Philadelphia."

Time to pull the plug, says local conservative pundit Christopher Freind: 

"There’s one small problem. There are no buyers for the ships.  And the prospect of that changing course anytime soon is virtually nonexistent. Thousands of ships worldwide are lying at anchor because of the global recession, idled indefinitely because the demand for shipping is dismally low...

"Rendell wants to spend money... to build ships…that no one is going to buy, ostensibly so some 1,000 workers can keep receiving a subsidized paycheck...

"The Chairman of the PRPA is none other than John Estey, former Rendell Chief of Staff and a longtime partner at Ballard Spahr, the Guv’s old firm which has received the lion’s share of millions in no-bid legal contracts from the state.  And guess who the outside counsel of PRPA was?  Ballard Spahr...

"Enter Manny Stamatakis, Chairman of the nonprofit Philadelphia Shipyard Development Corporation.  That is the entity which will receive the $42 million so it can buy Aker assets and lease them back to the company as part of the bailout...

"Hope is not lost, though.  Attorney General Tom Corbett must still approve the contract... Lobbying on Corbett to let this contract sail through before his January 18 gubernatorial inauguration by has been extremely intense...

"Here’s hoping Corbett drops anchor on Rendell’s last hurrah and charts a course for safer harbors."

About this blog

PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at,, 215.854.5194 or 302.652.2004.

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Joseph N. DiStefano