Gov. Benigno R. Fitial said he supports the development of a ship recycling facility on Tinian but a request for proposal will be issued for any contract award.
Fitial was responding to a question whether the contract will be awarded to First International Corp., which has been in discussion with the CNMI government on the Tinian ship recycling project for quite some time.
“We have to follow procurement regulations,” the governor said.
Fitial said the RFP will be issued as soon as his special legal counsel Jim Stump comes back from Brownsville, Texas where he said “most of the noncommissioned vessels are located.”
Senate Vice President Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian) and other Tinian officials are still seeking more information about the administration's plan at this time.
FIC began working on this ship recycling project in 2010, visiting Guam and then Saipan and Tinian in 2011.
In July, Paul Slater, chairman and chief executive officer of FIC, wrote to CNMI officials, expressing his disappointment and surprise with the recent turn of events, especially when representations were made that the CNMI government didn’t understand the memorandum of understanding that parties have talked about for a long time.
The governor, at the same time, said he got the support of U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Az) to the CNMI's proposal to allow the islands
“The good news is that he's willing to help us. push the amendment that would allow the CNMI to also repair military vessels,” Fitial said, adding that McCain is a “very strong members of the Armed Services Committee.”
This comes three months after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act without Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan's (Ind-MP) H.R. 4338 that would include the CNMI as a location where military vessels may be repaired or overhauled.
The governor does not expect any measure on the shipyard proposal to move very quickly because of the national elections.
“You got to remember, this is an election year so there's nothing going to happen between now and Nov. 6. After Nov. 6, U.S. Congress will be a lame duck,” he said.