Corpus Christi, Tx – Morgan City, La.
Jeffrey Perin who retired as a Captain from the Navy after 30 years, is a physicist and an MBA, who joined Swiftships in 1997. During his career, he was one of thirteen Navy personnel in charge of ship building. His history with Swiftships performance goes back to a tour in Viet Nam when he rode them as a spotter for Navy guns, so his knowledge of the product was intimate.
He feels the base is perfect for Swiftships expansion and the little ship yard that could, has big plans for its future at Morgan City as well as its new location. Swiftships current workforce of 260 will expand to approximately 375. As soon as their new building is built on reclaimed land next door they expect that number to go to 1,000 total workers in Morgan City. Out of space there, they hope their real expansion will be on Naval Station Ingleside’s thousand acres which would allow them to significantly add to their capacity to build both small and larger craft.
In a recent Port of Corpus Christi meeting, Apex representative Mustafa Tameez stated they are interested in the base for two reasons, the base offers great facilities and the availability of the trained workforce in the area allows them to rapidly expand to meet the demand for their boats. He said, “We’re ready to go today.”
Asked about job expansion at Ingleside, Perin said, “that as other contracts come online its going to be thousands, it depends on the timing of exact programs, some funded with U.S. funds, some funded with national funds from around the world, but, we would not be interested in this much property or this kind of facility if we weren’t interested in thousands of jobs, both direct and indirect.”
Tameez reinforced this by saying, “I know there is going to be this thing, ‘how many jobs, how many jobs’ we would not take on the financial responsibility for the space if we weren’t confident in our ability to expand it. A thousand acres is a lot of property and we’re assuming the financial risk and we wouldn’t do that if we weren’t confident in our ability to utilize that, we could go after a ship yard in Mississippi if that’s what we wanted to do.” Tameez said “Candidly, we believe we have enormous growth, what we are able to do at this site is part of the negotiations.”
In answer to a question about what Apex would do with that much property, Tameez responded, “I represent a private equity group, we have other companies that we have investments in, we look for synergies and bring those companies into the property. Our anchor company is Swiftships and the port related businesses that comes from them. But that’s a starting point, not necessarily an ending point.”
Innovative technology, unique products equals high demand
Swiftships specialization in shallow water high speed craft makes them ideal for patrol of the world’s sea transport lanes, rivers, harbors and coasts that are under threat from everything from terrorists to pirates. Indeed Swiftships boats are operating in a defense capacity throughout South America, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East and in every branch of the U.S. Military, State Department and Homeland Security. As Swiftships’ Director of Government Programs, Jeffrey Perin Capt. US Navy (Ret.) said, “This is the right time of the century for Swiftships.”
Indeed worldwide demand is growing. About 30% of Swiftships current contracts are part of normal U.S. military appropriations process, the rest are from foreign military purchases by countries with U.S. Military aid, national funds of other countries, and in the case of Iraq, transitional funds from a multi-national fund to help Iraq rebuild its security and navy. In all, Swiftships has built boats for over 30 countries and 50 private companies.
On March 15, the Commander Naval Sea Systems Command, Vice Admiral Kevin McCoy visited the yard for the start up of the engines of the first of nine Iraqi boats, six of which are currently under construction. The boats are being built under a $220 million U.S. Navy contract under Iraqi transition funds. The other three will be under a $140 million contract funded directly by the Iraqi government.
McCoy also inspected the new quarters for the first fifty Iraqi sailors that will be trained to crew and maintain the ships. When completed, the boats and crews will take over security of an offshore platform through which 85% of Iraqi oil flows. That platform is currently being protected by the American Navy. McCoy complemented Swiftships for their training and treatment of foreign military professionals and their contribution to security in the Persian Gulf.
Expansion is what is happening at Swiftships. On March 8th Swiftships was awarded an U.S. Army contract to build three prototypes for bridge ships, a type of small craft that can be off loaded from a truck and is used to push pontoon bridge sections in to place and secure them for vehicle crossings.
The Army wants to build 444 of them, investing a half a billion dollars before they are done. Swiftships already has built ships that exceed all the requirements and is now in the process of working with Cummins Diesel and a German company to develop an engine that uses the same fuel as used in most other Army equipment, in order to minimize the number of fuel types necessary in the field. Most of Swiftships contracts with the U.S. Government are sole source contracts, meaning they are the only people who produce that product.
It was his connection to NSI that brought Swiftships interest here as well. When he was in charge of ship building he supervised three facilities that produced mine hunters. When Ingleside ended up being a base for mine hunters instead of a homeport for a battleship, he was in charge of the conversion, establishing support for the boats and later the upgrading of mothballed U.S. mine hunters for sale to foreign countries there. Perin says, “I have a soft spot in my heart for Ingleside and recommended the company look at the base.”