Louisiana-based boat manufacturer Metal Shark announced it has commenced operations at its new shipyard, where the first of its recently announced Endurance-class catamarans is now in production.
In January, Metal Shark acquired a 25-acre waterfront tract situated on the Charenton Bypass Canal in Franklin, Louisiana, and announced plans to develop the new property into a facility to support its planned aluminum and steel shipbuilding efforts for vessels up to 250’ in length. Six months later, the new facility is operational and production is underway.
Metal Shark’s Franklin shipyard features over 60,000 square feet of workspace, a newly-constructed assembly building with overhead cranes, large-capacity marine travelift, and deepwater access to the Gulf of Mexico. Construction at the site is ongoing, and the company plans to continue its expansion well beyond this first phase.
“We’re booked well into 2015 with new 45’, 55’, and 75’ pilot boats, multiuse port utility boats, and dive support vessels, so we’ve been working around the clock to bring our new Franklin yard online,” explained Metal Shark president Christopher Allard. “With over 25 acres at our disposal, the new facility perfectly suits our future growth plans as we continue to expand our focus in the commercial sector.”
The first ship to take shape at the new yard is a 75’ x 22’ aluminum catamaran-hulled Metal Shark Endurance-class vessel built for a Louisiana port operator. The multiuse vessel has been designed to serve as a Command and Control Center, and will be fitted with a 5,000 GPM firepump and multiple RF-controlled monitors. Metal Shark will also equip the vessel with a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) protection system for crew safety and mission readiness in disaster response situations.
Soon, work will begin on a second 75’ Endurance and two 55-foot versions of the company’s Defiant-class monohull pilot boats as Metal Shark ramps up its operations at the new facility.
The launch of the new yard represents a significant expansion in focus for Metal Shark, a company best known for the welded aluminum center consoles and trailerable pilothouse vessels it builds for a wide range of law enforcement and military operators. Among its more notable contracts, the company has produced seven classes of vessels for the U.S. Coast Guard and nine classes of vessels for the U.S. Navy.
To spearhead its efforts in commercial and offshore markets, the company recently hired marine industry veteran Carl Wegener, previously of Austal USA and Kvichack Marine, as its director of commercial sales. Wegener will be responsible for developing the company’s relationships with operators in the passenger ferry, fast crew, utility, entertainment and pilot boat markets.