Cabras Marine intends to hire hundreds locally - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Cabras Marine intends to hire hundreds locally

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It was earlier this month when Cabras Marine Corporation was awarded the coveted U.S. Navy Ship Repair Facility contract. And the company isn't letting a recent protest stop them from looking into hiring hundreds of local residents.

President Joseph Cruz says he's ecstatic over the new venture his company is prepared to take on for the next five years. "We were very focused in our proposal and I believe we developed a very competitive offer. Not only from a technical standpoint, but from a pricing standpoint," he explained.

It was on October 11 when Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo announced the U.S. Navy had awarded Cabras Marine with a one-year contract with four option years for pier-side ship repair capabilities at the former SRF worth approximately $75 million.

Cruz says this is the first ship repair contract of this size Cabras Marine has applied for but has competed in other ship repair work packages in the past. He says the company has been in business on Guam for over 30 years operating tugboats and other marine assets having only recently ventured into ship repair over the last three years.

"The fact that we've been performing ship repair for only three years doesn't mean we've only been in that business for only three years," he said. "We have a lot of people with years of experience working for us in the business that are part of our team, and really it's just managing their experience and their capability and executing the work plan going forward."

Cruz says with this contract the goal isn't just to provide economical repair services for the U.S. Government but develop a local workforce to support the industry. "So that's one of our basic objectives is to take a young local who's willing to get their hands dirty, this is very difficult and challenging work," he said.

And if this weekend's job fair was any indication, many are up for the task. "We probably received over 600 applications on the fair and we probably received another 280 on our website, so there's obviously a labor pool that can be used," he said.

Cruz says just as he expects the work to increase, he intends to higher a large pool which could possibly be in the hundreds. He says of those applicants, many include the Guam Shipyard workers who were laid off without much notice. Cruz says Cabras Marine is obviously interested in those who were laid off adding some of its team were formally employed with Guam Shipyard as well. He not only calls the layoffs unfortunate but also the bid protest filed by Guam Shipyard just last week.

"We can't say much about the protest, however there is a stay in the exercise at the moment," said Cruz. "We're at a standstill until the issues have been addressed."

Guam Shipyard president Mathews Pothen meanwhile has yet to respond to KUAM News for comment.

"Our goal as a service provider in this business is to encourage more ships to come here so we have more work and as a result we have more people employed," Cruz added. Meanwhile, because of the protest Cabras Marine is unable to take on any Navy projects at this time, however it's not stopping them from reviewing the over 800 applications submitted this past month. 

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