Lockport, La.-based Bollinger Shipyards has reached an agreement to acquire Pascagoula, Miss., shipbuilders VT Halter Marine Inc. and ST Engineering Halter Marine Offshore (STEHMO) from parent company ST Engineering North America. The acquisition is expected to close before the end of the year.
With the acquisition, Bollinger Shipyards, already the largest privately held shipyard in the United States with a dozen locations across south Louisiana, will see its new construction and repair capacity grow even more, with a focus on defense and commercial construction work.
With the acquisition, Bollinger will take over VT Halter Marine’s U.S. government programs, which include the U.S. Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (PSC) and U.S. Navy Auxiliary Personnel Lighter berthing and messing barge contracts.
“For over 75 years, my family has been dedicated to providing our government and commercial customers with the highest levels of quality, support and service in the U.S. shipbuilding industry,” said Ben Bordelon, president and CEO of Bollinger Shipyards. “The addition of VT Halter Marine and STEHMO in Pascagoula, Miss., is strategic as it further strengthens our position in the industry and U.S. defense industrial base by allowing Bollinger to expand our footprint, capabilities and suite of innovative solutions that we can provide to our customers.”
VT Halter Marine was awarded the contract for the detail design and construction of the first PSC, formerly called the Heavy Polar Icebreaker, in April 2019. The fixed-price incentive-firm contract for the first PSC had a value of just under $746 million at the time, with options for two additional ships. The Coast Guard exercised a $552 million option about a year ago for the second PSC. The Coast Guard expects the first PSC to be delivered in the spring of 2025.
The forthcoming PSCs will keep shipping lanes open and perform missions in both the Arctic and Antarctic. The Coast Guard’s current fleet of heavy icebreakers includes the Polar Star, which entered service in 1976, and the Polar Sea, which launched the following year. The Polar Sea has been out of service since June 2010, following an engine casualty. The Coast Guard also has a medium polar icebreaker, the Healy. The PSCs will measure 460 feet by 88 feet, with a fully loaded displacement of 23,200 tons and accommodations for 186 people.
Bollinger will add VT Halter Marine’s portfolio of government contracts to its own robust portfolio, which includes construction of the Coast Guard’s Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter program and the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vessel (MCM USV) and Towing, Salvage and Rescue Ships (T-ATS) programs with the Navy.
“Bollinger takes great pride in being a major job creator in Louisiana,” Bordelon said. “Today, we’re excited to grow and expand that legacy to Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. We have always said that our greatest strength has and continues to be our people. By combining our skilled workforces, we’ll ensure coastal Mississippi remains synonymous with defense shipbuilding and remains a major part of our industrial base.”
The acquisition of VT Halter Marine and STEHMO includes 378 acres across two active shipyards in Pascagoula and two dormant yards north of Pascagoula. The VT Halter Marine facilities will be renamed Bollinger Mississippi Shipbuilding and Bollinger Mississippi Repair. The shipyards in Pascagoula offer 225,000 square feet of covered production space, the capability to produce Panamax-sized vessels up to 50,000 deadweight tons and a launch system able to launch vessels up to 740 feet in length.