FBS Expects New Machine Shop In Late 2023

By Shelley Byrne  |  New Construction & Ship Repair
Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding expects the completion of a new, 19,000-square-foot machine shop at its Surgeon Bay, Wisconsin, shipyard later this year.

The company broke ground on the project last September with long-time construction partners A.C.E. Building Services. The building is slated to be 300 feet long. Inside it, shipbuilders will have access to overhead cranes capable of lifting 5 and 30 tons, respectively. The machine shop will also include a tool room, lunch room, offices and restrooms. A.C.E. has built or renovated numerous buildings at the 63-acre facility over the past 50 years.

The new shop will take the place of the existing machine shop while also expanding inside and outside machining capacity and work scope, said Craig Perciavalle, Fincantiari Bay Shipbuilding (FBS) vice president and general manager.

“The new lifting capacity is three times that in the original building,” he said. “The new facility will allow us to process larger and heavier items all indoors, thus increasing our capacity while improving our safety and efficiency. The 30-ton crane will be outfitted with dual hoists, allowing for increased maneuverability and rotating of heavier objects that would traditionally have to be done outdoors.”

Series of Investments

The existing machine shop will be taken down. FBS is currently studying its process flow through the shipyard and its existing capabilities to better understand how to use that area within the shipyard moving forward, Perciavalle said.

Groundbreaking ceremony of Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding's new machine shop
Groundbreaking ceremony of Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding’s new machine shop

The work is part of the company’s $70 million investment in projects in the past two years.
“Since 2020, we have expanded the southern area of the shipyard, the former Palmer Johnson Yacht facility, which the company purchased in 2015,” Perciavalle said. “We have expanded our fabrication building 420, adding 68,000 square feet, which now houses our brand new blast and paint line, as well as new steel processing equipment for cutting and shaping. Additionally, we have reworked the paint building, making it better arranged for the indoor blasting and painting of ship sections, or modules utilized during the building process.”

He added, “All of this equipment is being used to improve our safety and efficiency while expanding our capabilities across all four of our business segments, which are new construction for commercial and government customers, ship conversions and ship repair and maintenance.”

FBS recently also built a new, 90,000-square-foot fabrication hull, building 433, used primarily to build modules for the U.S. Constellation-class frigate being built by its sister shipyard, Fincantieri Marinette Marine.

“These new facilities approximately double our indoor workspace, which will allow the company to grow to better serve all of our customers, both on and off of the Great Lakes,” Perciavalle said.

Finally, the company is also making some significant upgrades to the pumping system of its 1,154-foot-long graving dock, which Perciavalle called “a key and critical asset to support our Great Lakes ship operator partners.”

History of Growth

FBS has a long history of growth, prompting the need for the new facilities.

Bay Shipbuilding, as part of the Manitowoc Corporation, moved from Manitowoc to Sturgeon Bay in 1968 with the purchase of two existing shipyards on the property.

In late 2008, Manitowoc sold its Marine Group, including Bay Shipbuilding, to Fincantieri.  Since then, Fincantieri has invested significantly into all of its U.S. shipyards.

“The new facilities allow us to process more work more efficiently and safer while being less disruptive to our neighbors,” Perciavalle said. “As a result, not only have we increased our capabilities to expand our portfolio, providing a stable source of employment, but we are also improving for the betterment of all our stakeholders.”

With the new facility, larger items, including blades, shafts, bearings, hubs and engines, will now be processed indoors.

“Being indoors will improve our efficiency in all weather conditions, with the benefit of moving work inside, which will assist in reducing noise and light from the shipyard,” Perciavalle said.

Eying the Future

Craig Perciavalle, FBS vice president and general manager
Craig Perciavalle, FBS vice president and general manager

FBS continues to look at opportunities for future growth as well. FBS is constantly working on expanding our portfolio so we can continue to provide a stable source of employment as well as being a reliable shipyard to support all of our customers’ needs,” Perciavalle said. “As such, we are looking at opportunities that when successful will trigger further expansions or upgrades to the facility.  We also have a number of sustainability efforts in motion, including: LED lighting retrofits, solar panel installation, automated building controls and monitoring systems. Energy conservation has been a focus for FBS as we aim to decrease our carbon footprint and improve efficiency throughout the business.”

FBS remains committed to being a full-service shipyard, even with the robust commercial new construction business it has been focusing much of its attention on more recently, Perciavalle said.

Additionally, “We have been supporting Fincantieri Marinette Marine for many years now and will continue that for years to come,” he said. “We are working on expanding our capabilities to become a prime contractor for government programs, which we believe will only stabilize the company in support of all our customers. Finally, and just as important as our new construction business, we remain a significant partner to the Great Lakes fleet. We know the importance of and the economic impact the fleet has on our region and country, and we stand ready to continue our most valiant efforts to maintaining it.”

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