South Florida’s Largest Shiplift Arrives at RMK Merrill-Stevens Yard


Published Sep 5, 2019 5:25 PM by The Maritime Executive

After a long-awaited and intricate mid-August delivery, RMK Merrill-Stevens (RMKMS) shipyard, is now home to the newest shiplift in the state of Florida. The delivery of the shiplift, garnered the attention of marine industry advocates, local companies, and nonprofits.

The 2,700-ton shiplift, which first arrived at RMK Merrill-Stevens in August, was engineered by Miami-based Pearlson Shiplift Corporation (PSC). Pearlson is a pioneer in shiplifts and has helped grow the marine industry world-wide over the past 65 years. The business began when naval architect and marine engineer Raymond Pearlson was hired by a small Miami shipyard to construct a 300-ton shiplift and transfer system. PSC was selected by RMK Merrill-Stevens to provide the design of the shiplift as one piece of a complete shipyard redevelopment project, propelling Miami’s marine industry back to its former glory as an industry leader.

The resurgence of the marine industry in Miami, Florida and the storied Merrill-Stevens shipyard is centered around the yard’s $30+ million renovation. Merrill-Stevens was the first registered shipyard in Florida, with origins dating back to 1885. RMK MS is becoming the most updated and technology-driven shipyard in South Florida.

Now that the new lift has been delivered to the RMK Merrill-Stevens shipyard, their team will install support equipment and begin commissioning to achieve Lloyd’s Register certification – the marine standard in engineering, technology and safety. RMKMS will have the capacity to haul yachts up to 235 feet long out of the water, and perform in water service for vessels greater than 72 meters. 

According to RMK Merrill-Stevens President and CEO Aaron Leatherwood, “this shiplift is a game-changer for Miami and the US Superyacht Industry, adding much needed capacity to the region and aiding in our effort to become Miami’s home for superyacht refit.”

The largest shiplift in south Florida is one part of the company’s major renovation efforts. RMKMS is also bringing an estimated 100 new jobs to downtown Miami, split between the North and South yards, which will operate as separate business units servicing vessels of all types and sizes. A new 100-ton travel lift, recently acquired for the South Yard, brings additional capacity to the shipyard, enhancing the facilities capabilities to attract new clientele.

Leatherwood is proud of the amazing accomplishments of team RMKMS as they attempt to develop Miami as one of the top yacht refit destinations in the world. “There couldn’t be a better time to invest in the marine industry in Miami,” says Leatherwood. “RMK Merrill-Stevens is destined to set new standards in quality, and customer service.”

Leatherwood is a USCG qualified Pollution Prevention Officer and has enforced environmental protection legislation as a USCG Port State Control Officer. RMKMS will utilize a state-of-the-art water filtration system. The system filters and recycles runoff water, preventing pollution to local waterways and improving conservation efforts.

As the shipyard improvements near completion, team RMK Merrill-Stevens prepares for their return to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS). This fall, the RMKMS Refit Center, located in the Superyacht Pavilion, will feature the new Electronics Systems Division and engage with industry partners and customers planning upcoming repair and refit work for the new shipyard. RMKMS welcomes owners, captains, crew, vessel management, and others to stop by and discuss 2019-2020 repair and refit opportunities in Miami. 

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