Metal Shark's new Alabama Shipyard. (Photo courtesy of Metal Shark)
Mergers and Acquisitions

Metal Shark Acquires Horizon Shipbuilding

Chris Allard (Photo courtesy of Metal Shark)
Chris Allard (Photo courtesy of Metal Shark)

Metal Shark, Jeanerette, La., announced June 11 that it has acquired the assets of Horizon Shipbuilding, Bayou la Batre, Ala.

“We are thrilled to acquire the assets of Horizon, which will greatly increase our shipbuilding capability and capacity,” said Chris Allard, CEO of Metal Shark. “This acquisition will dramatically expand Metal Shark, as we add an impressive Alabama facility to our growing portfolio of shipyards and leverage Horizon’s expertise in the construction of steel vessels.”

The acquisition follows a motion approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court-Southern District of Alabama on June 5. Horizon Shipbuilding entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy last fall following losses on a large contract to build ten 150-passenger ferries for NYC Ferry.

At the same time, Metal Shark was thriving on the same ferry program, building six 150-passenger vessels; in September 2017, Metal Shark announced it had received an additional order from NYC Ferry for four 350-passenger ferries and one more 150-passenger ferry.

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With the acquisition, Metal Shark assumes ownership of a fully developed 35-acre shipbuilding facility in the Mobile Bay region, with separate east and west yards both fronting a dredged deepwater inlet. The facility boasts a total of nine assembly buildings; a 660-ton Travelift; and multiple cranes, CNC plasma cutters, welders, and other fixtures supporting the construction of steel and aluminum vessels up to 300 feet in length and 1,500 tons launch weight. Metal Shark’s new Alabama yard is situated just minutes from the Intracoastal Waterway with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico.

With the new facility, Metal Shark plans to be active in the design and construction of custom steel vessels for multiple markets, as well as the refit, repair, and conversion of existing vessels.

“As we add steel vessels to our already broad range of aluminum craft, we will offer everything from a 16-foot aluminum skiff to steel vessels up to 300 feet, and virtually everything in between, making the diversity of Metal Shark’s portfolio truly unmatched in the industry,” Allard said. “Additionally, our Alabama yard’s complete refit and repair services will appeal to customers throughout the Gulf, and also those in the South Florida and Caribbean yachting community. These clients will benefit from an accessible and modern facility with some of the most competitive labor rates in the nation.”

A steel towboat built by Horizon Shipbuilding on the 660-ton Travelift at Metal Shark’s newly-acquired Alabama Shipyard. (Photo courtesy of Metal Shark)
A steel towboat built by Horizon Shipbuilding on the 660-ton Travelift at Metal Shark’s newly-acquired Alabama Shipyard. (Photo courtesy of Metal Shark)

Travis Short, who was CEO of Horizon, will join Metal Shark as executive vice president.

“Over his past 20-plus years with Horizon, Travis has done an outstanding job of building and maintaining relationships with customers across multiple sectors,” Allard said. “He is well-liked and respected; he brings great shipbuilding knowledge and insight, and we’re happy to welcome him to Metal Shark.”

“After a long run at Horizon, I am pleased to enter this next phase by joining this team and by bringing our Alabama yard into the Metal Shark family,” Short said. “We are excited to add the technology, engineering, and processes that have set Metal Shark apart in the industry.”

The acquisition of Horizon is the latest in a series of expansion moves by Metal Shark. In 2014, the company opened its 25-acre Franklin, La., shipyard, which currently produces aluminum vessels up to 200 feet in length including passenger vessels and larger military craft. The most recent Franklin expansion includes a new 200- by 80-foot large-vessel-assembly building and 8,000-square-foot office building just finished this year.

Meanwhile, the company’s nearby 15-acre Jeanerette production campus, which has also expanded numerous times in recent years, currently produces nearly 200 boats a year for U.S and foreign militaries, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and others. The company is heavily recruiting as it seeks to bolster its workforce to support its growth plans.

“We will now incorporate Metal Shark’s technology, our production and project management methodologies, and the power of our in-house staff of over 40 engineers and naval architects to integrate these new assets into our operations,” Allard said. “We will also begin to separate our boatbuilding and shipbuilding efforts and recognize them as different entities. As we continue on this very calculated trajectory, we feel the conditions are perfect for the further growth and diversification of our portfolio.”­

Gravois Aluminum Boats LLC, Metal Shark’s parent, was established in 1986.­