US shipbuilder Metal Shark expands shipyard

Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark has announced an expansion project now underway at its waterfront shipbuilding complex in Franklin, Louisiana.

The expansion is being undertaken to accommodate increased production needs, the company said.

Metal Shark is erecting a fully-enclosed 200’ x 80’ large vessel assembly building to enable weather-independent construction of vessels up to 180’ in length.

According to the company, a new 150’ x 80’ auxiliary structure for final assembly was erected in October and is now fully operational. Additionally, a new 160-ton marine lift transporter will arrive in January to facilitate movement of boats around the 25-acre yard. Both were funded in part by a Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD) Small Shipyard grant awarded in April 2016.

As part of the expansion, Metal Shark said it would also grow its Franklin work force from approximately 65 full-time onsite employees today, to over 100 by Q2 2017.

“We’ve grown our Franklin business significantly since opening the facility in 2014,” explained Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard. “Currently we’re in the middle of an 18-unit order for 45’ foreign military patrol boats, we’ve got the first four of our New York CityWide Ferry builds well under way with the first two vessels 100% welded and entering the rigging phase, and we’re finishing out a 60’ DSV for a government customer.”

New projects commencing in 2017 at Franklin include a 45’ pilot boat for a Caribbean operator, a multi-boat Navy contract for 50’ high-speed vessels, a 64’ survey boat for the US Army Corps of Engineers, a 70’ supply boat for a Northeast operator, and a 158’ Incat Crowther-designed catamaran for a private client.

“Our strategic plan for our Franklin yard is falling into place,” explained Carl Wegener, Metal Shark’s director of commercial sales. “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 US and foreign militaries. Passenger vessel operators, pilot associations, and other clients have been thrilled with our lead times as well as our quality.”