Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dry Dock Duel Relaunched Navy to Seek New Bids for Repair Work

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dry Dock Duel Relaunched Navy to Seek New Bids for Repair Work

Article excerpt

The Navy will rebid a multimillion-dollar ship repair contract awarded to a Jacksonville company after a federal government agency upheld the protest of the losing bidder.

The action by the General Accounting Office last month reopens a contentious two-year effort to put a dry dock in the Jacksonville area. In December, Atlantic Dry Dock won the $8.1 million contract to repair ships from Mayport Naval Station.

Norfolk, Va.-based Metro Machine had been misled by Navy officials to think that it could do repair work in both Jacksonville and at its main facility in Virginia, according to the government board that made the decision. As a result, Metro Machine's bid did not get serious consideration, even though it was lower than Atlantic Dry Dock's, the report noted.

The Navy likely will accept new bids by the end of June and award the contract within several months, said Bill Klein, a spokesman in U.S. Rep. Tillie Fowler's office.

"The Navy's goal is to have this concluded this summer. They want to get it wrapped up," Klein said.

It will be the third time the Navy has tried to award the contract.

In July 1997, the Navy stopped the process because a proposed dry dock site in Fernandina Beach sparked local opposition and failed to pass environmental muster.

Last year, Atlantic Dry Dock officials said that the Jacksonville Port Authority had subsidized the bid of their competitor, Metro Machine.

Metro Machine and the port reached an agreement -- triggered if the company wins the contract -- that calls for the Norfolk, Va.-based company to receive rent-free land at the port's Dames Point terminal in return for several million dollars of improvements to port land there.

Metro Machine's agreement with the port runs through December, said Rick Ferrin, vice president of the port's marine division. This means that the deal, which Atlantic officials said could amount to a $6 million subsidy, remains on the table if Metro Machine decides to re-enter the bidding. …

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