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Marinette Marine to stay busy building littoral ships for Navy

U.S. Navy ships like this one are just one of the many that are built by Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette, Wisconsin.

MARINETTE - The makers of combat ships in Marinette will stay busy for at least five more years. Defense contractor Lockheed Martin is getting almost $700-million federal dollars to construct two more littoral combat boats at Marinette Marine through July of 2018.

It's part of a larger Navy contract approved three years ago, in which Lockheed Martin is delivering the first 20 ships - half built in Marinette, and the rest at the Austal USA plant in Mobile, Alabama.

The littoral is a relatively new breed of Navy boat designed to conduct patrols closer to shorelines. About 1,400 people are working on them at Marinette. And the work could last for years, since the Navy wants a total of 55 of the littoral ships. The current contract has resulted in thousands of jobs not only at the shipyards, but at 700 suppliers in 43 states - including 120 in Wisconsin.