Maritime Services lands its largest ship contract

Maritime Services Corporation's Southampton-based marine outfitting company, MSC (Europe) Ltd., landed a 13 million pound Sterling ($19 million) contract to convert the Dronning Ingrid rail ferry into a state-of-the-art hospital ship for the charitable group Mercy Ships.

MSC acts as the general contractor for all phases of the conversion, and its Hood River operation will handle interior design and space planning, cabin mockups, furniture fabrication and a portion of the project management. Portland resident Mel Berg will travel to the U.K. on Jan. 7 to serve as manager for the 18-month project.

"This came at a good time," said Maritime CEO George Selfridge. "Markets have been soft for the last year and we're seeing some recovery now."

In fact, the contract is the largest in the company's history.

"The largest contract we handled up until this one was $10 million, and our largest ones average around $3 or $4 million," said Selfridge.

In spite of its size, the Mercy Ships contract will not have much impact on the Hood River area.

"It won't mean a lot for the local economy," said Selfridge. "The contract is with our U.K. subsidiary. They will take the lead."

Mercy Ships is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to bring medical treatment to the poor and needy around the world. The Africa Mercy will join two other vessels, the MV Anastasis and MV Caribbean Mercy. The goal of Mercy Ships after completing the Africa Mercy is to serve one million people annually by 2004.

Work commences immediately on the project both in the U.K. and in Hood River, though Maritime is concentrating on other projects simultaneously.

Jim Paterson, vice president of marine operations for Mercy Ships, said, "We have been impressed by the ability of MSC to pull all of the diverse elements of this complex project together into a single contract and offer a very competitive price."

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