This post was updated with a statement from ST Engineering.
The Mississippi shipyard that won the contract to build a new class of Coast Guard icebreakers is set to be acquired by a Louisanna shipbuilding group, according to a late Sunday announcement.
Bollinger Shipyards has agreed to buy Halter Marine and the adjacent ST Engineering Halter Marine Offshore for $15 million from parent ST Engineering North America.
“Bollinger’s acquisition increases the shipyard’s growing new construction and repair portfolio. All ongoing programs are to be conveyed with the transaction, including the Polar Security Cutter (PSC) program for the U.S. Coast Guard and the Auxiliary Personnel Lighter-Small (APL(S)) program for the U.S. Navy,” reads a statement from Bollinger.
“The newly acquired yards will be renamed Bollinger Mississippi Shipbuilding and Bollinger Mississippi Repair. Pending customary closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close in the 4th Quarter of 2022.”
Under the deal, Bollinger agreed to pay an initial $15 million for the Halter Marine and STEHMO yards with an additional $10.25 million pending the award of future shipbuilding contracts for Halter Marine and current contracts meeting certain projected profit margins, a Bollinger spokesperson told USNI News on Sunday night.
Parent company ST Engineering — based in Singapore — decided to sell Halter Marine and STEHMO following a combined net loss from 2017 and 2021 of about $256 million across the two yards, according to a statement from the company provided to USNI News. The company then began the process of selling the two yards.
“The process culminated in the selection of Bollinger as the most suitable purchaser, taking into consideration their good reputation and strong track record in undertaking U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard programs,” reads a statement from ST Engineering. “Additionally, as a designer and builder of high-performance vessels, the Group believes that Bollinger has the capability and resources to add value to both businesses’ programs, including the Polar Security Cutter.”
In 2019, Halter Marine won a $745.9 million design contract to build the first heavy icebreaker for the Coast Guard as part of its Polar Security Cutter program, with options for two more for a total of $1.9 billion if all the options are exercised.
In anticipation of the work, the yard has expanded its capacity and infrastructure to build the 23,000-ton icebreaker.
Halter Marine has faced delays in the design process for the Polar Security Cutter and the shipyard has yet to start production pending design approvals, USNI News understands.
“We’d say, number one, it’s a complex vessel in the sense of its mission set. We haven’t delivered a heavy icebreaker in this country for over 40 years. The last one was Polar Star and the technology has changed dramatically,” retired Coast Guard Rear Adm. Ronald Rábago told USNI News in an August interview at the Mississippi yard.
Over the last five years, Halter Marine has moved away from commercial oil and gas work toward government contracts while the adjacent Halter Marine Offshore has focused on repairing commercial ships and systems, yard leaders told USNI News in August.
“The addition of VT Halter Marine and STEHMO in Pascagoula, Mississippi is strategic as it further strengthens our position in the industry and U.S. defense industrial base by allowing Bollinger to expand our footprint, capabilities and suite of innovative solutions that we can provide to our customers,” Bollinger Shipyards CEO and president Ben Bordelon said in the Sunday statement.
In addition to the Navy and Coast Guard contracts, Halter Marine is building two tank landing ships for an undisclosed customer.