Metal Shark expands Louisiana shipyard

Shipbuilder Metal Shark said an expansion project is underway at its waterfront shipbuilding complex in Franklin, La.
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Shipbuilder Metal Shark said an expansion project is underway at its waterfront shipbuilding complex in Franklin, La.

To accommodate increased production needs, Metal Shark said it is erecting a fully enclosed 200-by-80-foot large vessel assembly building to enable weather-independent construction of vessels as large as 180 feet.

A new standalone office building will provide more than 4,000 square feet of space for the yard’s executive, engineering, project management and administrative personnel.

Both new buildings are expected to be complete and operational by the second quarter of 2017.

The company said a new 150-by-80-foot auxiliary structure for final assembly was erected in October and is fully operational. A new 160-ton Marine Lift transporter will arrive in January to facilitate the movement of boats around the 25-acre yard. Both were funded in part by a Department of Transportation Maritime Administration Small Shipyard grant that was awarded in April.

As part of the expansion, Metal Shark will grow its Franklin workforce from about 65 full-time onsite employees today to more than 100 by the second quarter of next year.

“We’ve grown our Franklin business significantly since opening the facility in 2014,” Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard said in a statement.

“Currently we’re in the middle of an 18-unit order for 45-foot foreign military patrol boats, we’ve got the first four of our New York citywide ferry builds well underway, with the first two vessels 100 percent welded and entering the rigging phase, and we’re finishing out a 60-foot DSV for a government customer. With a full slate of new projects scheduled, Franklin will be even busier in 2017 and 2018.”

New projects next year at Franklin include a 45-foot pilot boat for a Caribbean operator, a multi-boat Navy contract for 50-foot high-speed vessels, a 64-foot survey boat for the Army Corps of Engineers, a 70-foot supply boat for a Northeast operator and a 158-foot Incat Crowther-designed catamaran for a private client.

“Our strategic plan for our Franklin yard is falling into place,” Metal Shark director of commercial sales Carl Wegener said. “That is, to produce multiple large vessels efficiently and with faster delivery times by leveraging our economies of scale, our military-honed QA systems and the serialized production methodologies we’ve developed over the course of producing nearly 1,000 patrol boats for U.S. and foreign militaries. Passenger vessel operators, pilot associations and other clients have been thrilled with our lead times, as well as our quality.”

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