LORAIN, Ohio — Good news from the Bartlett Maritime Corporation, the group behind the project to bring major submarine repair facilities to Lorain and Lordstown. Company officials met last week at the Pentagon with senior Navy leadership to discuss the status of their proposal.
“We're hopeful that we'll be under contract before too long to do the preliminary planning for the two new facilities we proposed,” said company founder, chairman and CEO Ed Bartlett. “One in Lorain to support building equipment to be installed in new ships and one in Lordstown to support maintenance of equipment in existing ships.”
From the late 80s through 2005, there were several Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commissions that sought to reshape the country’s military assets in a post-Cold War era.
The nearly 20-year BRAC process saw the closing of more than 350 military installations including several naval facilities.
It left the Navy with only four public shipyards, that was thought to be enough to handle the construction and maintenance of the nation’s fleet. Reports show it isn't.
"The U.S. Navy does not have enough organic infrastructure to properly maintain the submarine force,” Bartlett said.
The problem prompted him to establish the Bartlett Maritime Corporation with an outside-the-box approach to fixing the problem that has caused 75 percent of Naval Shipyard maintenance work to be completed late.
The Bartlett Maritime Plan looks to build two dry-docks in Lorain that could handle up to four submarines for repair at once employing 2-3,000 people with another 500 to 1,000 in Lordstown where a manufacturing and supply depot would be built to support the work.
In Lorain, they're ready.
"We're hoping that at some point before the end of the year that Bartlett starts sending workers from Lorain and the Lorain area for training and that we're up and running sometime in 2023,” said Mayor Jack Bradley.
Bartlett says that training of welders in conjunction with Lorain County Community College and Lincoln Electric would be part of Phase 1 which would come into play once they're under contract, which is still pending.
"No definitive date on when they'll be a contract and part of it depends upon when Fiscal year '23 budget is passed and funding becomes available but we're hoping to be under contract before too long," he said.
While they wait, the site selection process continues in Lorain and Lordstown which are also awaiting the final OK from Washington.
“We know where we want them but we don't want to announce them publicly,” Bartlett said. “Once the Phase 1 contracts are placed we'll be working with the current landowners. We've spoken to both the city government in Lorain and the village government in Lordstown and the landowners all know where we want to do it and there seems to be general consensus that we have a reasonable plan for sites but until we actually are under contract and get going we're not going to release the locations.”