Gulf Coast Communities and the Fabrication and Shipbuilding Industries


BOEM OCS Study 2014-609-612, Gulf Coast Communities and the Fabrication and Shipbuilding Industry: A Comparative Community Study

This four-volume study, financed as a cooperative agreement between the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the University of Houston, was released in June 2014.  The study was conducted between 2006 an 2009 and led by the researchers from the University of Houston Center for Public History and the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology at the University of Arizona.  It examines the impact of offshore oil development on the shipbuilding and fabrication industry across seven major Gulf Coast communities:  1) south Mobile County Alabama; 2) southeast Jackson County, Mississippi; 3) Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes, Louisiana; 4) east St. Mary Parish, Louisiana; 5) Port Arthur and Orange, within the Golden Triangle of southeast Texas; 6) Corpus Christi and Ingleside, within the Coastal Bend of Texas; and 7) Brownsville and Port Isabel of Cameron County, Texas.  The study describes the shipbuilding and fabrication industries in the Gulf of Mexico region, their geographic distribution, variation in their size and function, their trends and dynamics, the services they provide, and their labor demands and how they meet them.  It brings together historical, demographic, and ethnographic data collection and analyses to define the industry and explore the evolution of specific sites where petroleum-related shipbuilding and fabrication occurs, changes over time and space, and economic linkages.  As principal investigator on this study, I managed the collection of more than 100 oral histories and archival research throughout the Gulf Coast region, and I authored the lead essay in Volume 1, “The History of Gulf Coast Shipbuilding and Offshore Fabrication.”

The primary repository of the tapes and discs onto which the interviews were recorded and the transcripts of the interviews is the University of Houston Libraries, Special Collections.  More than 250 oral histories and interviews total were conducted for the study.  The collection can be found at Oral Histories – Houston History Project, 1996-2008, Series 7: Energy Development.  The are housed with oral histories from the Minerals Management Service/BOEM study, “History of the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry in Southern Louisiana, OCS Study MMS 2008-042-047. Currently, there are 710 oral histories in the collection, some of which are available online.



Photo: Jack-ups under repair at Galveston, Texas Southwest Shipyard

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