Toni Atkins

A keel-laying ceremony is scheduled to take place Friday  in San Diego for the second of five tanker ships General Dynamics NASSCO is building for American Petroleum Tankers.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, will be the guest of honor. She will weld her initials onto a steel striker plate that will be fitted into the ship.

The 50,000-ton tankers NASSCO is building for APT are 610 feet long, with a capacity of 330,000 barrels. The shipbuilder said the vessels have improved fuel efficiency and include the latest environmental protection measures.

The five-ship contract allowed NASSCO to maintain its 4,000-person workforce and add about 300 jobs, according to the company. The vessels will carry petroleum and liquefied natural gas.

A keel-laying ceremony is the first milestone celebrated in the life of a ship, along with launching, commissioning and decommissioning. It marks the construction of the central spine of a boat.

The first ship in the series, the Lone Star State, is scheduled to be delivered in the fourth quarter of this year, according to NASSCO. The second vessel, the Magnolia State, is set for delivery in the second quarter of next year.

On Thursday, NASSCO began construction on a similar vessel — the second of a three-ship series for SEA-Vista Newbuild III LLC, a subsidiary of SEACOR Holding Inc.

—City News Service

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