Tampa Bay Shipbuilding is a large repair, overhaul, and full-service conversion facility, located on 62 acres on the shores of Tampa Bay, with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, and is the largest and most comprehensive shipyard Between Mississippi and Virginia. The yard faces Sparksman Channel, a 500 foot wide, 43 foot deep channel with a large turning basin, allowing large ships ample access to the shipyard.
The facility itself offers a covered construction and repair facility 600 feet long and 145 feet wide, and four graving docks capable of handling ships up to 907 feet in length with drafts up to 28 feet.
Located in the warm waters of Florida, the yard is busy 12 months of the year, with hundreds of highly skilled craftsmen and many more contractors offering a wide range of services, and serving watercraft owned and operated by private, commercial, and government concerns.
In November 2008, the shipbuilding concern was purchased by Edison Chouest Offshore, and is now called Tampa Ship, LLC. Chouest intends to modernize the facility and expand the workforce of 500 employees.
The shipyard is considered one of the most extensive facilities of its type in the southeastern United States, and remains busy throughout the year. During its history it has remained a major employer in the Tampa area, employing literally thousands of workers during its history.
Until the mid 1970s, the workers at Tampa Bay Shipbuilding were exposed to one of the most prevalent materials used in shipbuilding at that time: asbestos. Known for its resistance to heat and corrosion, asbestos was regularly used in hundreds of marine applications, from boiler components to electrical insulation, from waterproof coating to flexible gaskets.
By 1977, amid rampant safety warnings, the federal government acted to make the manufacture of asbestos-related products illegal. However, for thousands of shipyard workers across the country, the damage had been done. Even workers not directly in contact with asbestos-based products could have been exposed to the potentially deadly fibers, which were easily carried through the air. Once inhaled, these fibers irritate the lining of the lungs, and can cause potentially deadly conditions such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Symptoms of malignant mesothelioma often do not show up until 20 or more years after the first exposure to asbestos. If you or a loved one were employed by Tampa Bay Shipbuilding, you should ask your doctor to screen you for asbestos exposure being that mesothelioma navy cases are prevalent.