JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana barge and towboat manufacturer will shut down its Ohio River shipyard this spring, ending ship building operations at the site that stretches back more than 180 years.
Parent company American Commercial Lines announced closure plans Monday for the Jeffboat shipyard in Jeffersonville, citing an oversupply of barges and a significant drop in orders over the past three years.
"While we're very sorry that market conditions have left us with no choice but to close Jeffboat, the shipyard closure will not have an impact on ACBL's barge freight business or its customers, vendors and teammates," said Mark Knoy, president and CEO of Jeffboat.
Jeffboat's workforce has shrunk from as many as 13,000 workers during the World War II era to its current 220 employees, the company said. The shipyard is expected to shut down permanently by the end of April.
Workers who are members of Teamsters Local 89 were told about the closure plans Friday. The union plans to meet with the company to discuss the effects of the closure and secure benefits for its members.
"We knew something was going to happen," Kevin Tanner, a lead painter with 20 years of experience at Jeffboat. "I don't think the majority thought it was going to close."
The company has faced multiple layoffs over the years and morale has been low, Tanner said.
Jeffboat is reviewing the best alternative use for the 65 acres of riverfront property the shipyard currently occupies, according to a company statement.
Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said he expects another boat builder will take over the shipyard and that the site can't be used for much else.
"It's what built the city of Jeffersonville," he said. "Jeffboat is probably one of the most recognized figures in the city. There have been rumors going around for the last several months. ... It's a sad day."