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The Toledo shipyard of the AmShip Division of American...

By DONNA M. DAVIS

TOLEDO, Ohio -- The Toledo shipyard of the AmShip Division of American Ship Building Co. has been closed indefinitely because of the decline in the Great Lakes shipping industry, the company announced Friday.

Officials for the Tampa, Fla.-based company, a division of the American Ship Building Co., made the decision to close the yards in Toledo at a meeting Thursday with union representatives of the facility's employees, who have been on indefinite layoff.

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Only four workers -- three office employees and a yard employee - were still on the job.

Robert E. Bartlome, corporate vice president of administration, said in a statement, 'Areas that affect the shipbuilding conversion and repair business have experienced an economic decline over the last few years, especially in the Great Lakes region.

'Two major industries greatly impact Great Lake shipping transportation -- steel and automobiles -- both of which are severely depressed and have suffered the encroachment of foreign imports,' Bartlome said.

He noted that in the early 1960s, more than 250 vessels were in the lake's fleet that now numbers less than 100, over half of which did not operate in the last shipping season.

'All of these factors have provoked a historical decline in ship construction, conversion and repair work resulting in increasingly unprofitable operations,' Bartlome said.

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Otis Frye, secretary-treasurer of Boilermakers Local 355, said union officials had been trying to persuade the company to begin negotiations on a contract due to expire in September, but AmShip had refused.

'The attitude of the company is very disappointing,' he said, adding that AmShip had said it had no plans to close, move or sell the Toledo facility.

In April 1982, more than 100 workers were laid off, leaving only a handful of employees. The company once employed nearly 400.

Bartlome said the Toledo facility was physically unable to accommodate the new, larger vessels, which, he said, 'dictates that work be consolidated in Lorain,' where the company has the large 1,000-foot dry dock.

The company's Chicago yard closed in 1981.

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