Front Street Shipyard in Belfast has been awarded a more than half-million dollar grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.

The $667,028 award is part of the federal Small Shipyards Grants program and the shipyard will put the money toward purchase of a machine that “will streamline the construction of custom and production vessels, reducing costs and improving quality of the end-products,” according to a press release announcing the award. Capable of cutting nearly any material including stainless steel and titanium, the new machine will cut very large parts such as wooden frames for recreational boat molds and carbon fiber panels for commercial ferry construction. Shipwrights will cut parts directly from electronic data drawn by engineers, reducing production time while also improving quality and accuracy.

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