Metal Shark to open yard on Charenton canal
Louisiana-based boat manufacturer Metal Shark Aluminum Boats is expanding its operations and has acquired a large waterfront parcel in St. Mary Parish to accommodate the production of larger vessels.
The builder has signaled its entry into the shipbuilding sector with the purchase of a 25-acre waterfront tract on the east side of the Charenton Drainage and Navigation Canal just south of U.S. 90. Plans for the new facility call for more than 60,000 square feet of manufacturing space, with approximately 100 new employees expected to be hired within the next few years.
Infrastructure improvements have commenced at the site, which Metal Shark is transforming into a shipyard capable of supporting aluminum and steel shipbuilding operations for vessels up to and exceeding 250 feet in length.
Construction of Metal Shark’s 45- to 75-foot vessels currently on order and in various stages of assembly at the company’s headquarters in Jeanerette will be transferred to the new yard, where production volume will increase as new, larger offshore vessels are added to the company’s expanding lineup.
Metal Shark vessels 40 feet and under, including several models being built under multi-year contracts for the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy, will continue to be produced at the company’s existing facility in Jeanerette. This facility, which was expanded in 2011 and again in 2012, will be enlarged once more to accommodate present and future growth.
All told, these moves represent an investment of more than $10 million by the company.
“Metal Shark has grown exponentially over the past several years, but the size and scope of this newest expansion will completely redefine the company and elevate our role in the marketplace,” said Chris Allard, president of Metal Shark. “While we are expanding our facilities, we are at the same time actively expanding our in-house engineering staff and our in-field training and support team to keep pace with our ambitious slate of new builds.”
In addition to the facilities and workforce upgrades, Metal Shark has also announced substantial investments in new designs. The company’s proven Defiant class of V-bottom pilothouse vessels, with parent craft in service with various military and law enforcement entities worldwide, has been expanded to include vessels up to 100 feet.
Additionally, the company has announced a new “Endurance” class of pilothouse catamaran vessels. These long range offshore vessels are characterized by their wide beams, efficient hulls, and many crew-friendly features shared with existing Metal Shark models, such as “pillarless glass” pilothouse windshields that increase visibility and operational safety by drastically reducing the dangerous blind spots associated with conventional pilothouse vessels.
All Defiant and Endurance-class vessels may be fully customized to meet a wide range of mission profiles including military; law enforcement; fire rescue, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive disaster response; and pilot operations.
While Metal Shark caters to a global customer base and supports a fleet of vessels in service worldwide, the company is quick to credit its Louisiana roots as a key component of its ongoing success.
“Metal Shark has always enjoyed strong support from the State of Louisiana and South Louisiana,” Allard said. “This long-standing cooperation and pro-business attitude, combined with the region’s skilled workforce, were key factors in our decision making process for this expansion. Louisiana provides the perfect climate for American manufacturing and we’re proud to continue our investment here.”
Established in 1986, Gravois Aluminum Boats LLC, and its government/commercial boat entity Metal Shark Aluminum Boats, are leading suppliers of welded aluminum boats for defense, law enforcement, and commercial entities. Key customers include the United States Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, Army, and the militaries of partner nations worldwide. From its two fully self-contained facilities in South Louisiana, Metal Shark produces a wide range of custom v-hull and catamaran center console and pilothouse patrol boats, fireboats, skiffs and speciality vessels ranging from 16 feet to 250 feet.