Magazine article National Defense

Small U.S. Boatyards Take on Competitive Export Market

Magazine article National Defense

Small U.S. Boatyards Take on Competitive Export Market

Article excerpt

* While major U.S. ship manufacturers have seen a steady decline in exports over the last few decades, some smaU boatyards are unwilling to give up on foreign markets.

Seattle-based company Kvichak Marine Industries Inc. came to the IDEX tradeshow in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to leverage some of the notoriety garnered after Kvichak won the U.S. Coast Guard's fast response boat-medium contract, said Sales Manager Art Parker.

Kvichak, which began its life as a supplier of aluminum fishing boats, is manufacturing 180 to 250 boats for the Coast Guard. It has about 200 workers.

It's the right time for the company to come to the Middle East "We are about 25 percent of the way through the Coast Guard contract, so we have some visibility. We have some credibility. And it is time to start marketing on the [foreign military sales] side," Parker said.

"Where we see the market are search-andrescue agencies that are looking for that credible, proven product They look to the U.S. Coast Guard and say, 'Wow. The U.S. Coast Guard has spent a lot of time and money developing that boat We want some.'"

Kvichak, which produces only aluminum hulls, supplies oil skimmers to the U.S. Navy, and there is at least one in every port the service operates in to clean up after spills. It also recently sold three pilot boats to a customer in the Netherlands.

"It's a very rare thing for a U.S. yard to deliver boats to Europe," he said.

The company is looking to the Middle East and South America to win Its first major military export contract For now, it is more interested in working on foreign military sales, where the customer is the Defense Department, and it handles all the contracting issues, he said.

Also using foreign military sales to export boats is Swiftships Shipbuilders LLC. The company's main boatyard is in Morgan City, La., but ft recently moved its corporate office to Washington, D. …

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