Foreign Demand for Military and Commercial Vessels is Brisk… For Now
In the heavy shadow of possible sequestration-induced federal budget cuts, some U.S. companies are busy supplying vessels to overseas customers under the Navy’s Foreign Military Sales program and through private contracts to foreign government and firms. Demand for offshore oil vessels is strong.
A big chunk of overseas business now is under the U.S. FMS, transferring defense equipment, services and training to other nations. Countries approved for the FMS pay for vessels themselves and/or with U.S. government help. U.S. defense budget cuts will affect the FMS program ahead, however, boat builders said last month. Nevertheless, the reality for U.S. boat builders – especially in the mid-tier and smaller yards – is that they are successfully competing for foreign business, especially in the less than 300-foot vessel arena.
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Swiftships Builds Patrol Boats For Iraq And Others
Last month, the Iraqi Navy took delivery of two, additional 120-foot Coastal Patrol Craft built by Swiftships in Morgan City, La. as part of a 15-ship U.S. Navy FMS case, said Shehraze Shah, Swiftships CEO. “P-310 and P-311, handed over at the Umm Qasr naval facility on Feb. 12, are the tenth and eleventh of the class. Lead vessel P-301 was delivered in Sept. 2010 during Iraqi Navy Day celebrations.” Using a design chosen by the Iraqi government, the Coastal Patrol Craft will be used to enforce the nation’s maritime sovereignty and protect offshore oil platforms, Shah said. Propelled by three MTU 16V2000 diesel engines with three propellers, the vessel’s aluminum alloy superstructure and hull with seven watertight bulkheads can reach speeds in excess of 30 knots and can sustain a 25-man crew for up to six days. “We serve commercial and military markets around the globe,” Shah said. “Our client list ranges from Tidewater Inc. to the Dominican Navy. The Egyptian Navy has been buying patrol boats from us since 1976. Now we’re delivering to Egypt under a one-of-a-kind, Build Operate and Transfer/Co-Production program for them.” As for backlogs, he said, “On our existing Iraqi patrol boat task, we have a backlog of three vessels that are part of fifteen vessels ordered by the Iraqi Navy under the FMS. We’ve delivered eleven of those vessels so far, with another to be delivered in March.”
Shah said the Iraqi Navy considers Swiftships a trusted agent and contractor. “Asian and other foreign builders don’t have a leg to stand on because they’ll never offer the same quality and design agility that we do,” he said. “We have over 125 designs and 600 plus hulls under our belt, along with a price-conscious business model. As we manage our growing ship portfolio, our new partnership with Iraq allows us to fill new demand and expand our reach in the military-ship construction industry while we continue to differentiate Swiftships as a quality brand. Over the last year, we’ve expanded in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.” Founded in 1947, Swiftships announced a recent, management transition to improve profitability. The company intends to increase its portfolio and supply a greater variety of vessels.