Metal Shark announced its entry into the towboat market October 22 with a contract to build three 120- by 35-foot towboats for Florida Marine Transporters Inc. of Mandeville, La.
The four-deck, welded-steel, Subchapter M-compliant towboats were designed by John W. Gilbert Associates Inc. and will be powered by twin Cat 3512C Tier 3 marine diesel engines rated at 1,911 hp. each. Construction is underway at Metal Shark Alabama, Bayou la Batre, with deliveries beginning in 2019.
The contract signals Metal Shark’s expansion into the steel shipbuilding sector and formal entry into the inland towboat market following the company’s June acquisition of the assets of Horizon Shipbuilding. With that purchase, Metal Shark, best known as a builder of welded aluminum vessels, assumed ownership of a fully developed 35-acre Alabama shipyard and announced its intent to significantly expand its steel shipbuilding efforts.
“The first step in bringing our Alabama facilities online was to implement the technology, production and project management methodologies, and engineering-driven processes developed and perfected during the course of building over 1,000 vessels at our two Louisiana shipbuilding facilities,” said Chris Allard, CEO of Metal Shark. “Now, with systems in place, multiple new steel vessels under construction, and strong demand for our refit and repair services, we can proudly say that Metal Shark Alabama is fully open for business.”
To support its growth plans, Metal Shark is aggressively recruiting in both Alabama and Louisiana to expand its workforce. Additionally, the company has recently fortified its executive management and business development teams with the addition of several notable veterans of the commercial shipbuilding sector, including:
• Tim Scheib, former shipyard commander of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and more recently, president and CEO of Brownsville Marine Products. Scheib serves as president of Metal Shark, and directs the company’s production operations.
• Mike Hennessey, former Brownsville Marine Products vice president-sales and marketing. Hennessey serves as Metal Shark’s director of commercial sales-inland waterways, and spearheads the company’s business development efforts in the freshwater/inland commercial sector.
• Billy Smith III, former founder and vice president of Trinity Yachts LLC, which began as a division of VT Halter Marine. Smith now serves as a key account manager for Metal Shark and was directly involved in developing the relationship between Florida Marine and Metal Shark.
• Doug Barrow, formerly general manager of Great Lakes Towing Company and Great Lakes Shipyard. Barrow now serves as a vice president at Metal Shark and directs operations at Metal Shark Alabama.
• Travis Short, formerly president and CEO of Horizon Shipbuilding, which built towboats for multiple inland waterways operators, including Florida Marine Transporters. Short was retained in Metal Shark’s acquisition of Horizon and now serves as an executive vice president at Metal Shark Alabama.
“Our significant and ongoing investment in Alabama underscores the extent to which we are committed to solidifying our status as a highly capable and competitive steel shipbuilder,” said Allard. “We will continue to aggressively recruit new employees, engage new clients, and push to set new standards for efficiency and reliability as we build on what is now the most diverse portfolio of vessels offered by any domestic shipbuilder.”
Caption for photo: Metal Shark is building three 120- by 35-foot river towboats of this John W. Gilbert Associates Inc. design for Florida Marine Transporters Inc. (Photo courtesy of Metal Shark)