Beach-based maritime group wins grant for fiber optics work on ships

AMMAthumbA Virginia Beach-based maritime association has won a state grant to aid in the installation of fiber optics on Navy vessels.

The American Maritime Modernization Association received a $95,000 grant to lead a coalition of companies in developing a certification program for civilian contractors, according to Michelle Tomaszewski, the maritime association’s strategic director.

Fiber optics work on ships requires different products and different testing than it does on land, and the installation is much more complex, Tomaszewski said. The American Maritime Modernization Association wants to develop a process that will meet a requirement that all contractors engaged in the work on Naval vessels be certified by 2017, according to the association’s grant application. It is expected to take about 18 months to create the program, Tomaszewski said.

“By having companies work together, it saves a lot of resources,” she said.

The association’s membership has national reach and includes about 58 companies, most of which do engineering or on-ship work for the Navy, said Joseph Yurso, chairman of the group’s board of directors. The organization relies almost entirely on volunteers; Tomaszewski, a part-time staff member, said she is the only paid employee.

The grant came from the first Governor’s Competition for Talent Solutions. The American Maritime Modernization Association was one of the five winners out of 27 applicants. The contest, billed as the first of its kind in the commonwealth, was designed to foster training “for new and existing workers to close the skills gap and support the growth of the Virginia economy,” according to a release from the governor’s office.

“These awards are a testament to the power of businesses working together to build a stronger workforce,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement. “I am pleased that this process has inspired firms in many industries, from manufacturing to transportation, to identify their needs and create innovative new partnerships to get Virginians the skills they need to improve their lives and build a new Virginia economy.”

The other winners were the Botetourt County Public Schools Foundation, the Forest Equipment Operator Training School in Franklin, the Virginia Education Center for Asphalt Technology in Fredericksburg, and the Virginia, Maryland and Elaware Association of Electric Cooperatives in Glen Allen.

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