According to Websters New World Dictionary, a boom is “to increase or grow rapidly.” I put together the On The Ways (new construction) section of the magazine each month and also help post boats that have been recently contracted for, are currently under construction or recently delivered on Over the past three months (July through September), we have listed more than 40 boats in the construction section of the magazine. Another dozen or so were left out because we ran out of room. (Those do appear online, however.) For the October issue, we have added more room for new construction coverage, but some newbuilds will still be left out. Shipyards from all U.S. coasts and the Great Lakes are adding to the count. Remember, that’s not counting the boats that we have reported on as under construction or delivered earlier in the year.

Is this a boom? You could say so.

There has been a lot written about the depressed oil and gas market in the Gulf of Mexico. I went down to the bayou last week to have a look around. What I found were boatyards that concentrate almost exclusively on the energy industry are struggling, even closed, while diversified yards have work.

At Gulf Island Marine Fabricators, Houma, La., workers were putting the finishing touches on the Chad Pregracke, the third of three 180'x48'x11'6" 9,200-hp towboats for Marquette Transportation, Paducah, Ky. Other newbuild projects the yard is working on include two 250' spud barges for McDonough Marine Service, Metairie, La.

“We try to be diverse in our projects,” said the yard’s business development manager, Dan Gaiennie. “You really have to be to survive. We’ve worked hard to reach out to customers looking to build a variety of different boats. We think we have a lot to offer. We’ve gotten some of those contracts and we’re always working to get more.”

Over in Jeanerette, La., Metal Shark just delivered the 206th 29' Defiant-class response boat-small (RB-S) for the U.S. Coast Guard. Meanwhile, at its Franklin, La., yard, workers are constructing the first of four 85'4"x26'3" aluminum ferries for Hornblower Cruises & Events, San Francisco. The new ferries, the first that Metal Shark is building, will operate in New York.

“We developed this production line for small boats years ago, and we’re applying the same approach to the bigger boats we build,” said Metal Shark’s Greg Lambrecht, executive vice president.

Morgan City, La.-based Swiftships LLC was awarded a $15 million Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program contract recently for four 28-meter (91.84′) coastal patrol craft (CPC) production material kits (KITs) for the Egyptian navy (EN). The contract calls for Swiftships to procure KITs so the EN can assemble/co-produce the 28-meter CPCs in Alexandria, Egypt. The CPCs will include 4.7-meter rigid inflatable boats, forward looking infrared system, diagnostic equipment, and contractor engineering technical services.

Swiftships will execute the contract under the U.S. Navy’s Gulf Coast Supervisory Shipbuilding (SUPSHIP) Group at its yard in Morgan City. The work is expected to be completed by December 2017.

“We have a different mindset when it comes to Foreign Military Sales,” said Swiftship’s Eric Geibel, vice president, operations and facilities. “We actually open operations there to help them maintain the equipment, instead of just flying someone over when there’s a problem.”


Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.