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The Port of San Diego has long churned with activity, with the maritime industry at the heart of it all, generating almost $4 billion of economic impact on the waterfront and beyond. It produces more than 30,000 jobs.
The range of port-related activity is vast and deep, like the ocean itself, but perhaps no commercial enterprise is more enduring and high-profile than its world-class shipbuilding and repair industry. Five shipyards call the port home, servicing both the region’s legendary fishing fleet and, of course, the U.S. Navy, which considers San Diego and its incomparable port and facilities a strategic global interest.
Ships are a way of life in San Diego and a way of living for the thousands of workers employed by the port’s shipbuilding and repair industries. More than 90 percent of workers are San Diego County residents; almost one-fifth live within two miles of the shipyards.
If shipbuilding and repair are at the heart of the port, workers like the Gomez family are some of its lifeblood. Two generations of the Gomez family have worked at NASSCO, the only new construction shipyard on the West Coast. Jose, the patriarch of the family, is a pipe welder. He has worked at NASSCO for 43 years. His older son, Ricardo, is a design specialist and has been a NASSCO employee for 21 years. Younger son Daniel is an area manager and 20+-year NASSCO veteran.
For the Gomez family, working at NASSCO is more than just a livelihood. It’s central to their lives. The stability of the company, the breadth of its work and its embracive environment have not only allowed the family to grow and thrive, but to do so within a world that reflects their goals and aspirations.
“I believe that it’s important to give back to your community. NASSCO is very big on giving back to every area here in San Diego and I think that we should all do just the little parts we can to make our communities better places to live,” said Ricardo, who also coaches youth soccer.
Pride in their work and in San Diego, drives the Gomez family. “NASSCO builds the best ships in the world,” said Ricardo. “When my father found out I was coming to NASSCO, he was very happy. He knew that I had a good work ethic. He showed me how to be a good worker and he knew that if I applied myself, the sky’s the limit here.”
Daniel recalls the joy of seeing his father coming home every day, and remembering the appreciation he felt at the sense of security his father and his work provided. Now father and sons all work together on the Port of San Diego’s working waterfront, sometimes even car-pooling. It’s a time to share stories, a bit of history while looking ahead.
“NASSCO is definitely a company that values its employees,” said Daniel. “It’s given me the livelihood to provide for my family. Everything that I am today is because of NASSCO.”