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Northwest Tribes Call for Navy Support of Green Tug Program

TULALIP, Washington — A Tacoma shipyard with a 30 percent Native workforce could build six fuel-efficient tugs for the United States Navy, if final contracts win approval.

The J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Corporation employs about 100 shipbuilders and has an industry-leading veteran and tribal journeyman program. On December 3, it launched its latest YT class Azimuth Stern Drive (ASD) tug, the Menominee, named for the Menominee Indian Tribe in Wisconsin. The Menominee is expected to join the Puyallup, launched in September, in assisting and escorting U.S. Navy vessels in Yokusuka, Japan.

U.S. Navy Region Northwest has requested additional YT class ASD tugs to replace five older tugs built in the 1970s. The newer tugs use 50 percent less fuel than their predecessors. If the contract for additional tugs is approved, the next tug would be the Tulalip, the first battery-powered tug in the fleet.

Tulalip Chairman Mel Sheldon said construction of more tugs will support critically needed jobs. “Further, J.M. Martinac’s operations serve as a springboard for Native American and veteran apprenticeship programs and perpetuates an 87-year tradition of providing a steady workforce in the community.”

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Teri Gobin, director of Tulalip’s Tribal Employment Rights Office, is heading up Tulalip’s appeal for the contract to be approved.

“Our work has been to help with J.M. Martinac’s effort to make our local legislative and congressional delegation aware of the petition, so Congressman Dicks, Congressman Smith and Senator Murray can push to get the tug funding into the president’s budget,” she said. “J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding has supported the Native American and local economy with a family business for 87 years. We look forward to working with them to continue to provide a tribal workforce to meet their needs in the coming years.”