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CEO Spotlight

Q & A With

Chris Allard CEO of Metal Shark By Heather Ervin, Editor in Chief

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eanerette, La.-based Metal Shark is a diversified shipbuilder that continues to make news, delivering to both government and commercial customers. With three fully self-contained shipyards in Alabama and Louisiana, plus a dedicated engineering facility in Croatia, Metal Shark’s 500-plus employees produce more than 200 vessels per year. Among recent notable developments in the government market, Metal Shark last month announced that it was nearing the end of the operational test and evaluation trial period for the Navy’s incoming standardized “40 PB” patrol boat platform. Developed as the replacement for up to 160 patrol vessels deployed worldwide with Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s Coastal Riverine Forces, Metal Shark’s 40 Defiant design was selected in late 2017 from a field of seven competing shipbuilders. And in late November, Metal Shark’s Franklin, La., shipyard, delivered its 30th passenger vessel since June 2017. Currently, five 150-passenger catamaran ferries are in various stages of construction at the yard. In the past three years, passenger vessels built by Metal Shark have been delivered to Washington, D.C., Florida, New Orleans, and to multiple operators in New York.

22 Marine Log // January 2020

With such a busy few years under its belt, Marine Log decided to chat with Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard to find out how he got his start in the maritime industry and how Metal Shark came to emerge as a leading force in its market sector in such a short time. Marine Log (ML): How did you get your start in the marine vessel design industry? Chris Allard (CA): I was born into a boating

family and grew up on the waters of Long Island Sound. I was completely immersed in the boating lifestyle from the earliest age, and in high school, my hobby was restoring and showing vintage Boston Whalers and Donzi speedboats. My planned direction towards a traditional college education was sagely diverted by my family, who set me on the course that eventually landed me where I am today. I attended the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture, where I studied Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. Webb is a true hidden gem, providing me with an outstanding education and an amazing introduction into the marine industry. After college, I landed what I thought was a dream job at American Marine Holdings (parent company of Donzi and Pro-Line boats) in Sarasota, Fla., and found myself in an environment that was quite a bit different than I had imagined it would be. During my short stint there, I was part of the AMH Government Services division, which offered custom versions of Donzi and Pro-Line boats for government and military customers. We also originally founded Metal Shark to add aluminum offerings into our range of fiberglass boats. I eventually acquired Metal Shark from AMH along with Jimmy Gravois, founder of Gravois Aluminum Boats. Since that time we have grown Metal Shark into what it is today. ML: In your experience, what are the latest trends in design for inland, coastal and offshore vessels? CA: We see the continued adaptation and integration of technology; specifically around autonomy, system controls and electrification.

One of the bays at Metal Shark’s Franklin, La., shipyard.