Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post
The new submarine on display Wednesday morning at Lockheed Martin in Riviera Beach.
RIVIERA BEACH — Defense giant Lockheed Martin plans to add 50 jobs over five years as it ramps up production of a robotic yellow submarine that can inspect underwater oil platforms.
The state of Florida will give Lockheed Martin $3 million in a combination of incentives and an investment in the project, said Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida, the state's economic development agency for the aerospace industry. "The state has to do anything it can to create jobs," DiBello said.
During a news conference Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll said Lockheed Martin's new vehicle could spark hiring at its plant next to the Intracoastal Waterway in Riviera Beach. "Although this is going to create 50 jobs in our state over the next five years, the application beyond this is going to create hundreds of jobs," Carroll said.
Lockheed Martin's new sub, named Marlin, is 10 feet long and four feet wide. The battery-powered vehicle can be dropped from a ship and programmed to take three-dimensional images of oil platforms, bridge supports or shipping channels.
DiBello and Lockheed Martin General Manager Richard Holmberg said oil companies with wells in the Gulf of Mexico are obvious customers. They also predict demand from shipping companies, ports and insurance carriers that cover oil platforms.
The unmanned sub can operate at depths of up to 1,000 feet, so it couldn't be used to inspect the mile-deep BP well that failed in the Gulf last year. Holmberg wouldn't say how much the vehicle will cost. Lockheed Martin has built two of the subs and hopes to make "many, many more," he said.
Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) reported a profit of $2.9 billion on revenue of $46 billion in 2010. It employs 400 people at its plant in Riviera Beach.
DiBello said that without state incentives, Lockheed Martin would have taken its sub manufacturing to another state. But Holmberg said the Riviera Beach facility is Lockheed Martin's only site with quick access to deep water.