Swiftships’ roots can be traced back to 1969, where it was widely recognized in the military vessel manufacturing market after producing the famous Patrol Craft Fast (PCF) better known as the “swift boat”. While still an active supplier of military craft, today, Swiftships has been thriving in the commercial end of the industry for about a year now. And it’s paying off.
Among the yard’s current commercial contracts are a 200′ aluminum crewboat for Y&S Marine, Belle Chasse, La., two 175′ fast supply boats for Lafayette, La.-based Rodi Marine, two 155′ crewboats for J. Brady Marine, based in Cut-off, La., and two steel-hulled 145′ OSVs for South Oil Co. in Iraq.
The shipyard is still a player in the military market, but not in the same manner as it’s been the last few years. The yard’s contracts to build vessels for the Foreign Military Sales fleet during those years were profitable yet removed Swiftships from the commercial side of the industry altogether. The U.S. Navy buttoned up the yard as though it were a Cajun naval base.
In September 2012, co-owner and Chairman Calvin LeLeux, a 45-year veteran of the shipyard industry, decided to bring in Shehraze Shah, Chief Executive Officer, as partner and let him and Calvin’s son, Jeffery LeLeux, President, take on the bulk of the responsibility of running the yard’s day-to-day operations.
“It just got to be too much. I couldn’t be out-of-pocket,” said Calvin LeLeux, “It started to affect my health, and I knew there had to be some changes. So, I’ll still be involved, but not like I have been in the past. I told my partners I want to see what they can do.”
The yard is expanding its operations and already has customers interested in filling the new slots as quickly as Swiftships can get them ready. “We’re building a complicated marine structure,” said LeLeux. “We’re building some steel vessels like the OSVs for South Oil, but aluminum is still our bread and butter.”