Metal Shark Aluminum Boats is investing $10 million to expand its operations and acquire a large waterfront parcel to accommodate the production of larger vessels.

The Jeanerette, La.-based builder of welded aluminum boats plans to enter the shipbuilding sector with the recent purchase of a 25-acre waterfront tract located in south Louisiana’s St. Mary Parish. Plans for the new facility call for over 60,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space, with approximately 100 new employees expected to be hired within the next few years. Metal Shark is transforming the site into a shipyard capable of supporting aluminum and steel shipbuilding operations for vessels up to and exceeding 250' in length.

Construction of Metal Shark’s 45', 55' and 75' vessels currently on order and in various stages of assembly at the company’s headquarters in Jeanerette will be transferred to the new yard, where production volume will increase as new, larger offshore vessels are added to the company’s backlog.

Metal Shark vessels 40' and under, including several models being built under multiyear contracts for the Coast Guard and Navy, will continue to be produced at the company’s existing facility in Jeanerette. The facility, which was expanded in 2011 and 2012, will be enlarged again to accommodate present and future growth.

“Metal Shark has grown exponentially over the past several years, but the size and scope of this newest expansion will completely redefine the company and elevate our role in the marketplace,” said Chris Allard, president of Metal Shark. “While we are expanding our facilities, we are at the same time actively expanding our in-house engineering staff and our in-field training and support team to keep pace with our ambitious slate of new builds.”

In addition to the facilities and workforce upgrades, Metal Shark has also announced substantial investments in new designs. The company’s proven Defiant-class of v-bottom pilothouse vessels, with parent craft in service with various military and law enforcement entities worldwide, has been expanded to include vessels up to 100'. 

Additionally, the company has announced a new Endurance-class of pilothouse catamaran vessels. These long-range offshore vessels are characterized by their wide beams, efficient hulls and crew friendly features such as “pillarless glass” pilothouse windshields that increase visibility and operational safety by drastically reducing the dangerous blind spots associated with conventional pilothouse vessels.

All Defiant- and Endurance-class vessels may be fully customized to meet a wide range of mission profiles including military; law enforcement; fire rescue; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) disaster response; and pilot operations.

Metal Shark caters to a global customer base and supports a fleet of vessels in service worldwide, but the company credits its Louisiana roots as a key component of its ongoing success.

“Metal Shark has always enjoyed strong support from the state of Louisiana and south Louisiana,” said Allard. “This long-standing cooperation and pro-business attitude, combined with the region’s skilled workforce, were key factors in our decision making process for this expansion. Louisiana provides the perfect climate for American manufacturing and we’re proud to continue our investment here.”