With the awarding of a Naval shipbreaking contract to BB Metals in Sparrows Point, elected leaders are touting the creation of new jobs at the Sparrows Point Shipyard.
But after a news conference Thursday called by U.S. Rep. C.A. Ducth Ruppersberger, it isn't clear how many—if any—new jobs were created for the dismantling of the USNS Range Sentinel, a Navy ship that, in its prime, saw action in World War II.
BB Metals, in residence at the shipyard, was awarded a federal contract to dismantle the vessel and recycle any materials that can be reused.
Ruppersberger said in a news release that 55 new jobs were created.
The accuracy of that number may be in some doubt.
Most of the worker slots assigned to the dismantling of the Sentinel were filled by existing shipyard employees, according to Sparrows Point Shipyard owner Vincent Barletta. A few slots were filled by subcontractors who do business with Barletta's company, he said.
Ruppersberger said he hopes other shipbreaking contracts follow this one, and expects more jobs to be created if and when that happens.
Asked if future jobs would be advertised so local unemployed residents could apply for them, Ruppersberger said that decision would belong to the company owner.
BB Metals President Mike Dunavant said the next contract would mean that between 150 and 300 workers would be needed "immediately" and efforts would be made to hire locally.
Baltimore County Councilman John Olszewski Sr. said Barletta has been in touch with Baltimore County Economic Development officials, with the hope of retraining and hiring people to get them back on the job.
The announcement and efforts of the area's elected officials centered around "jobs, jobs, jobs," Ruppersberger said.
"Things are getting better," Ruppersberger said. "We are creating jobs here."
Ruppersberger also said that he and his local and state colleagues have not given up on steelmaking at Sparrows Point.
"We're working hard on that," the congressman said, noting that talks are taking place with international steel companies that can procure the raw materials necessary for affordable and consistent steel production at the historic site.