Navy orders target vessels from two boatyards

The Navy wants 495 new High-Speed Maneuverable Surface Target (HSMST) vessels built over the next five years. During the first year of the contract, 100 aluminum HSMSTs will be built at Metal Shark Aluminum Boats, Jeanerette, La., and 100 will be constructed at Silver Ships, Theodore, Ala. 

The Navy maintains an inventory of HSMSTs to be utilized mainly for weapon systems testing and evaluation and fleet training exercises at nine seaborne target operating activities or ranges.  

“Neither one of us knows anything after that first year,” said Scott Clanton, Silver Ships’ project manager. “In the second year, the Navy will decide how many boats it wants for that year, and we’ll compete for the contract. Originally, I think, six yards were bidding. Now, only us and Metal Shark can bid on the next boats. One of us could get the contract in a given year or it could be split between us.”

Silver Ships’s target vessel design measures 27’8″×9’6″ and has a draft of 2’4″. “We’ve been building these boats for the Navy for 15 years,” said Clanton.

Twin Mercury Optimax 200-hp outboard engines will provide the main propulsion for the new boats. The engines will spin 3-bladed stainless steel props, giving the vessels a top speed of 50 mph.

The Silver Ships $11.5 million first-year contract includes trailers, shipping cradles and spares. The yard can potentially build another 295 HSMSTs during the following two- to five-year period with a total estimated ceiling value of $48 million. 

The contract was competitively bid as a small business set-aside through the Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C.

Design of the Metal Shark HSMST is based on the company’s 26′, twin engine, welded aluminum Relentless center console model. 

The Navy-Metal Shark contract is worth about $14 million. The potential total contract value for Metal Shark could be more than three times as much through 2016. Metal Shark said it could produce up to 350 surface target vessels.

 “Large contracts such as this help us to increase our efficiencies, creating a trickle-down effect that positively impacts our ability to accommodate our state, local, and commercial customers as well,” Chris Allard, Metal Shark’s president, said in a statement announcing the contract.

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