Metal Shark Boats exec Matthew Unger announced Monday a $1.9 million capital investment that will allow the company to complete a contract to build 500 patrol vessels for the U.S. Coast Guard over the next seven years.

Along with creating 106 jobs with an average starting salary of about $45,000, plus benefits, the project will retain 75 existing jobs and result in an estimated 164 indirect jobs in Iberia Parish and across Acadiana.  

According to a press release announcing the project, Metal Shark will produce the second generation of a 29-foot-long vessel that has a top speed in excess of 50 mph. The boats will be used for port, waterway and coastal security; for search and rescue missions; for drug interdiction cases; for immigration-related operations; for fisheries enforcement; and for defense readiness and law enforcement missions.

Metal Shark won a $192 million U.S. Coast Guard contract in November to build the Response Boat–Small, a type of watercraft adopted by the Coast Guard in response to its broader homeland security mission after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks.

Metal Shark says once the expansion is completed and full production is achieved, its facility will produce one boat every four or five days. The company also is building other boat classes for the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, local law enforcement agencies and foreign militaries.  

The state began working with Metal Shark on the project in early 2011 and will provide the company with the services of LED FastStart, the nation’s top-rated state workforce development program. Metal Shark also is expected to utilize Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption and Quality Jobs incentive programs.

Anyone interested in working for Metal Shark Boats should attend a job fair conducted by the company and LED FastStart this Friday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The job fair will take place at the New Iberia campus of South Louisiana Community College, 908 Ember Drive, in New Iberia. The company is hiring welders and fitters, marine mechanics, marine electricians, general shop hands, CNC operators and press brake operators.

Metal Shark is a subsidiary of Gravois Aluminum Boats. Its all-aluminum construction boats withstand extreme conditions, harsh environments and years of abuse. Metal Shark sells directly to qualified government and commercial organizations, and the company custom-builds all boats.

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