Birdon Acquires Bayou La Batre Shipyard From Metal Shark
Birdon America Inc., the U.S. arm of Australia-based The Birdon Group, has announced the acquisition of Metal Shark Boats’ 32-acre shipyard in Bayou La Batre, Ala. The acquisition, which took place January 31, brings a Gulf Coast shipyard into Birdon’s portfolio just as the company ramps up work related to its contract to build the U.S. Coast Guard’s Waterways Commerce Cutter Program.
That contract, awarded in October 2022, has a total value, if all line items are exercised for 27 cutters, estimated at $1.187 billion. And while the contract has attracted a number of challenges due to questions surrounding Birdon’s qualification as a small business, Birdon has nonetheless made progress over the past year, with the Coast Guard giving a notice to proceed last March and Birdon awarding a number of subcontracts in the months since.
Bollinger Shipyards is expected to be the subcontractor for the bare hulls, while Master Boat Builders of Coden, Ala., will build the superstructures.
“This investment in this facility will not only ensure we deliver on our promise to the U.S. Coast Guard, but it will also provide an opportunity for our subcontract partners in southern Alabama to build and install all components of these vessels in one location,” said Jamie Bruce, CEO of Birdon Group.
As part of the deal, the existing workforce at Metal Shark’s Bayou La Batre shipyard will move over to Birdon, with Birdon also taking on the shipyard’s repair work. According to the announcement from Birdon, the company plans to make significant infrastructure investments in the shipyard, with an estimated 300 new jobs created over the next two years.
“I am extremely grateful to Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard and his team for collaborating diligently with us, in a short period, to complete this deal,” Bruce said.
The shipyard includes five steel buildings, more than 1,700 feet of waterfront, a 660-ton Travelift, cranes and other equipment relevant for building steel and aluminum vessels up to 300 feet long, according to Birdon. The shipyard offers connections to both the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf of Mexico.
Jeanerette, La.-based Metal Shark took over the Bayou La Batre shipyard from Horizon Shipbuilding in June 2018. At the time, the acquisition marked Metal Shark’s entry into the construction of steel vessels. Less than two years later, Metal Shark delivered its first steel new-build vessel and first inland towboat, the mv. Stephanie Pasentine, to Florida Marine Transporters from the Bayou La Batre shipyard.