Metal Shark Boats plans shipyard expansion

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Metal Shark Boats is expanding its facility after being contracted to fill several military and law enforcement orders, including one from the Coast Guard for nearly 500 new watercraft.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Metal Shark Boats president Chris Allard announced this week that the company will make a $1.52 million capital investment to expand its Jeanerette, La., shipyard in support of military, law enforcement agency and commercial boat contracts.

Metal Shark will continue production for its major Coast Guard response boat contract, fulfilling an order for nearly 500 new watercraft for the Coast Guard's Homeland Security response, and the expansion will boost the production of more than two dozen other production models ranging in size from 16 to 60 feet.

The news comes soon after a report in National Defense magazine reported that small boatbuilders, including Metal Shark, could benefit from the Navy’s spending cuts that result in orders of smaller vessels.

Metal Shark provides two of the Navy’s small patrol craft. The 27-foot Defiant is used as a force-protection vessel in foreign and domestic waters. Metal Shark national sales manager Dean Jones likened the patrol craft’s job to preventing attacks such as the one in 2000 that ripped a hole in the USS Cole in Yemen and killed 17 sailors. About 20 of the small boats are in service.

In May 2012, Jindal dedicated a previous expansion of Metal Shark's facilities in Jeanerette after the company won a $192 million Coast Guard contract in November 2011 to build the Response Boat-Small, a watercraft adopted by the Coast Guard to broaden its homeland security mission after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The newest expansion will create 88 new direct jobs, with an average salary of more than $62,000, plus benefits, and Louisiana Economic Development estimates that the project will result in an additional 134 new indirect jobs, for a total of 222 new jobs. The project will also create 25 construction jobs while retaining 144 existing Metal Shark employees.

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