SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego shipbuilder General Dynamics NASSCO began building the first of six new ships for the U.S. Navy, and says it expects to begin hiring after New Year's Day.
In a ceremony Thursday, the shipbuilder began constructing the USNS John Lewis, the first of six $640 million oiler ships. NASSCO also was awarded two new Navy ship repair contracts that could lead to adding more staff.
"Between repair and construction, we will be hiring after the first of the year," said Dennis DuBard, a Nassco spokesman.
The news comes two months after General Dynamics NASSCO sent layoff notices to about 1,500 of its workers . The company blamed a drydock collapse in early July. Nobody was hurt in the incident.
In the end, DuBard, who noted the cyclical nature of the business, says about 200 workers lost their jobs. He added that a large number of them have since been rehired.
"We moved the ship out about two or three weeks after the incident happened, so we've got some work to do on the dock, but we're making strides," DuBard said.
Work at NASSCO had already slowed in early 2018. The shipbuilder never came close to filling the roughly 1,000 jobs it advertised at a highly publicized hiring fair in April.
"There was some work that we had anticipated coming from the Navy that didn't show up. There was some work that got deferred after the first of the year," said DuBard. "Some things changed that were beyond our control in some ways."
Now that some of the work has come back, DuBard says he expects the hiring to come in waves. He noted that NASSCO has an eight-week paid training program for new hires .
He did not have a specific number of jobs to be added.