ALLANTON - Eastern shipbuilding cranks-out a new ship about every 2-months.
The latest took place this afternoon at Eastern's Allanton Shipyard, with the launch of the HOS Brass Ring.
Eastern built the 302-foot offshore support vessel for Hornbeck Offshore Services out of Covington, Louisiana.
It's the 9th ship in an 11-vessel contract with Hornbeck.
This was the first launch that Don Smith, who will be the Master of the Brass Ring, has seen in his career.
Smith said, "It was just awesome. That's all I can really think of right now. It's quite a momentous thing for my career."
The ship still needs to undergo outfitting and inspection at the Nelson Shipyard, and sea trials at Port Panama City before it can be delivered to Hornbeck and start working with the oil rigs in the Gulf.
We've seen launch after launch over the years and there's a lot of pride and careful planning that goes into each ship and each launch.
"It's a real serious business. You got to know what you're doing." Phillip Stephens says. He works at Eastern Shipbuilding's Allanton Shipyard, "I'm a scaffold builder, man. Without me, man, they can't build a boat because they can't get up there."
Stephens says each job is like a carefully choreographed production, "You got your helpers, your builders, your welders, your grinders, your pipe fitters, your ship fitters. You got us all working on it together. It's kinda like a big puzzle piece but everyone knows their position cause ain't nobody trying to hurt nobody else."
Between the Nelson and Allanton shipyards, Eastern Shipbuilding employs about 1,600 people.
C.E.O. Brian D'Isenrnia says the current Hornbeck contract is the backbone of the company, casting a nice economic ripple effect.
D'Isernia says, "The money that we receive goes to pay vendors, goes into salaries, goes to pay the FedEx man, goes to pay the UPS man, the junior store man that sells cigarettes and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, so there's a multiplier effect spread throughout the community."
After every single ship launch, D'Isernia rewards his employees, hosting a cookout.
He adds, "It's just a good idea, that's all. We've done it for years and we've been here thirty, since 1976, 38 years, we've had a little get together for the employees that actually built the vessel."
Employees' families and friends are invited to watch the launch and to stay for the feast. A satisfying pay-off for all the long summer days of hard work in heat and humidity.
Stephens added, "Aw, man, this is like the bonus on the check. This is like 'Yeah!' You know? Crawfish, shrimp, you know, family get together. Got off work about 30-40 minutes early. Small things in life go a long way man. I enjoy my job. I enjoy my job."
Eastern Shipbuilding is also one of three finalists for a contract to build the next generation of cutters for the U.S. Coast Guard.
The contract would be worth 10.5 billion dollars over the next 20 years.