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Continuing efforts by the American Samoa Shipyard Services Authority (ASSA) to help make American Samoa the tuna hub in the Central Pacific took another important step forward, with its largest repair job to date.

On Dec. 26, the Trimarine owned vessel, the MV Cape Breton began its dry-dock repairs at the ASSA shipyard. Weighing in at 2,200 tons, the purse seiner ship work includes taking the shaft, rudder and propeller out for review with technicians on hand —brought in by Trimarine — to review and install new shaft seals. 

The cradle at the shipyard had to be reinforced to support the weight of the vessel, with local company Atlantic Pacific Marine, and Sean Gregg instrumental in helping do this work, Carlos Sanchez, Chairman of the Board of the ASSA said.

He explained that other local companies involved in the Cape Breton repairs are TJ Machinery & Fabrication and The Machine Shop.They are doing some welding jobs with the vessel’s conveyor belts (used to move fish).

The original estimate for the job was approximately $150k. However, after the vessel was put up, some more work was identified, and now the cost is at least $300k with the additional 2 - 3 jobs, Sanchez told Samoa News.

The Cape Breton job involves sandblasting of the wet deck, water blasting below water line areas, painting three coats, coils and wells, with additional jobs added to the original scope of work, which includes painting the entire boat.

The jobs were estimated to be completed in three weeks.

 “However, as of today, the schedule should put the boat down by the end of this week (Friday), so they will finish in less time than originally scheduled, with more jobs added to the original scope of work" said Sanchez.

“The idea is to cooperate with the goals of the boat owner to send the boat out fishing as soon as possible. This is one of the conditions that was agreed to with boat owners — that the shipyard will work to complete quality work in a timely manner so the boats can continue with operations whether they be fishing or for any other purposes,” he said.

With the anticipated success of this Cape Breton work, according to the shipyard chairman, discussions between the shipyard and Trimarine are ongoing now to put Trimarine's second largest boat up — the Cape Finisterre. “Myself, for for the shipyard, Mike Wisneske for Trimarine and Sean Gregg for Atlantic Pacific Marine are doing an ongoing survey of the reaction of the cradle with the Cape Breton on top.”

 “I am optimistic that we can get into an agreement and bring this 2nd boat up.The job would be to change the shaft and the propeller among other things — it's a big job,” Sanchez said.

In the meantime, the shipyard has “received numerous phone calls from boat owners, managers from off-island congratulating us [the American Samoa Shipyard Services Authority] and relaying similar sentiments about this accomplishment,”  said Sanchez.

The shipyard authority dry docked 44 boats in its first year and a half of operations — including tuna purse seiners and government boats for American Samoa, Samoa and the Cook Islands. Aside from the vessels "dry docked" the shipyard also repaired numerous vessels alongside its docks (including major repairs on the boom of a tuna seiner).

In comparison, Sanchez said, the shipyard under MYD management, "in three years, they dry-docked only 36 small boats (longliners). 

Proud of their accomplishments, he concluded, “the ASSA shipyard was transferred back to management of the American Samoa Government on June 2011 and started with nothing. Within a few days, the workers cleaned up and made the essential repairs to dry dock their first boat on June 5, 2011.”

Currently the ASSA is looking at dry dock work scheduled into April 2013, with more anticipated as the word gets out about the quality of work they are capable of doing.