Birdon Acquires Metal Shark Boats’ Alabama Shipyard for USCG Work

Alabama shipyard
Birdon takes over the operation of the shipyard in Alabama which will be the location for the USCG project (Metal Shark)

Published Feb 5, 2024 7:27 PM by The Maritime Executive


Birdon America, a U.S.-based shipbuilding which is part of Birdon headquartered in Australia a shipbuilding and defense contractor, acquired the Alabama shipyard of Metal Shark Boats. Birdon reports the deal will enhance its overall operations while specifically designed to support work on a large U.S. Coast Guard contract won in 2022, while Metal Shark will continue to operate from its two yards in Louisiana.

The acquisition involves the 32-acre shipyard in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Metal Shark acquired the assets of the bankrupt Horizon Shipbuilding taking over the fully developed yard and running it to offer maintenance, repair, and conversion services to government, commercial, and recreation operators as well as its shipbuilding services. The yard has an in-house design team with Metal Shark emphasizing that it was laid out and equipped to support the fabrication, construction, and launch of vessels up to 300 feet in length. 

Birdon acquires the yard and reports the existing workforce will transfer to Birdon. They will continue to execute the current orderbook of repair work. In addition, the acquisition will support the Waterways Commerce Cutter program, a component of the $1.187 billion contract Birdon won in 2022 to design and build 27 river buoy and inland construction tenders for the U.S. Coast Guard. 

“The 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.

Birdon reports in the near term it plans to make significant capital outlays in the shipyard’s infrastructure. According to the company, this will foster job creation, accelerate technological advancement, and provide growth to the region’s economy. A direct result will be the creation of 300 new jobs in the area over the next two years.

The shipyard is located close to the Intracoastal Waterway with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico and fronting a dredged deepwater inlet. It includes five steel buildings for fully self-contained fabrication and construction work, with over 1,700 feet of waterfront, a 660-ton Travelift, multiple cranes, and all required equipment for the construction of steel and aluminum vessels up to 1,500 tons launch weight. 

The construction contract is critical for the USCG as it seeks to replace an outdated fleet of inland water vessels operating on the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico. The vessels have a critical capability to drive piles, build towers, and other substantial marine construction tasks as part of the effort to build and maintain inland waterway navigation. The contract calls for the delivery of the vessels over a 10-year period starting 18 months after the design is finalized.

Birdon in August 2023 announced that Master Boat Builders of Coden, Alabama, was selected as the subcontractor to build the superstructure for the Waterways Commerce Cutter (WCC) Program. Birdon has also selected six other companies in Alabama, Louisiana, and South Carolina as subcontractors in the first tranche of the program.