While it works upon water, VT Halter Marine stands on a brick wall – one that guards any nation’s men, women and children. Its products provide protection. But it’s not just about security. This is a versatile company that serves several markets – in commercial and government sectors – and its future is as attractive as the clear, blue sea, reports Dan Harvey.
VT Halter Marine operates on a philosophy residing in the famous quote: “A strong defense is the surest way to peace.” The Pascagoula, Miss.-based company provides such defense.
Consider recent company news. In October 2012, VT Halter Marine partnered with France’s DCNS to submit a proposal to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the design and construction of the US Coast Guard (USCG) Offshore Patrol Cutter. In this arrangement, VT Halter Marine serves as the prime contractor, with DCNS acting as the exclusive subcontractor for the platform design. In this cost-effective project, USCG should acquire as many as 25 offshore patrol cutters to replace an aging fleet of medium endurance cutters.
VT Halter Marine Inc. is a shipbuilding subsidiary of Vision Technologies Systems Inc (VTS), and the association is appropriate, as vision steers this ship. The company deploys cutting-edge technologies to design and build the highest quality sea-faring vessels.
Commitment to quality comes strongly into play with its intense focus on vessels that provide safety and defense. A nation’s shores are safely secured by products provided. As such, the company closely monitored discussion of the defense budget in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election.
“Defense is a key area for us,” says Chief Executive Officer William Skinner. “About 50 percent of our revenues come from government contracts, so we obviously consider the defense budget very important.”
And it’s more than just about retaining business. “It contributes to maintaining our workforce,” says Skinner.
ALL HANDS ON DECK, WE’VE COME ASHORE
And the company is as dedicated to its workforce as much as the workforce is dedicated to the company: “We’ve engaged a committed workforce,” reveals Skinner. “Many of our people have been with us for a long time. If you look closely at our company, you’ll see a trend toward repeat business. That’s because our employees – and they number about 2,000 – have helped us establish longstanding relationships with customers. Also, because of them, VT Halter Marine has a reputation for turning out high-quality products.”
At the heart of those products is the company’s modular design that offers integrated capabilities such as sensors, small- and medium-caliber guns, missiles and torpedoes. Vessels the company produces can conduct antiair, anti-surface and anti-submarine operations, as well as mine detection and avoidance capabilities.
Such vessels are for peace-keeping operations and act as deterrents to foreign aggressors.
DHS and USCG will do well to turn to VT Halter Marine, as the company is a world-leading designer and builder of ships that come in a range of sizes.
And it’s not all about defense. “We are an extremely diversified enterprise that serves several markets,” says Skinner.
Look at the output. “We have the capability to build both small and large vessels,” says Skinner.
“These range from Patrol boats and Ferries up to 720-foot Panamax vessels. Current contracts require a different range of vessel sizes. In our main facility, which is located in Pascagoula, we have the capacity to launch up to 14,000 tons at 750 feet in length.”
For Crowley Maritime Corporation, the company has built all 10 of that client’s 185,000-barrel ATBs (articulated tug barges).
“We were then contracted to build three 300,000 barrel barges,” adds Skinner.
The first ATB was being constructed from 2004 to 2006. All 185,000-barrel barges were launched and delivered from VT Halter Marine’s Pascagoula Operations. The subsequent 9,700-hp tugs were built at the company’s Moss Point Marine Operations.
“We have three main facilities,” describes Skinner. “Pascagoula Operations is our largest facility, and it has the capacity to build the largest vessels. But then we also have Halter Moss Point Operations and Moss Point Marine Operations. All are located in Jackson County, Mississippi, and within about 10 miles of each other.”
The company’s markets also include commercial and energy (supplying offshore service, and ocean-going vessels). Here’s the portfolio: VT Halter Marine designs, builds and repairs a wide variety of ocean-going vessels such as patrol vessels, oil recovery vessels, oil cargo vessels, ferries, logistic support vessels and survey vessels, among others.
“We’re getting more into the repair of vessels as we move forward,” reports Skinner. “Within the next 15 months, the repair facility that we are starting will complement our latest construction programs.”
As far as complementation, VT Halter Marine well serves it parent company: VT Systems, an engineering enterprise that provides integrated solutions to the commercial and government markets in the aerospace, electronics, land systems and marine sectors.
Meanwhile, VT Halter Marine – with its shipyards – is enjoying a 60-year tradition of shipbuilding excellence that provides hi-tech maritime products to US and international clients. The company can also boast a large capacity: A wide range of ship construction, meeting the most complex design and construction schedules. The track record is substantial. VT Halter Marine shipyards have delivered more than 3,000 vessels to commercial and government clients in 29 countries on five continents.
Indeed, this is a full-service shipbuilding company that offers considerable resources: the latest design, engineering, program management, and logistic resources. Such versatility enables it to build small and fast vessels, as well as medium- and large-sized ships, up to 50,000 DWT.
Further, VT Halter Marine will deliver vessels in steel, aluminum or composites in a variety of hull forms. Expertise is proven: with the design and construction – and displacement – and planning of many hull types. Look at what the company turns out: Monohulls, Catamarans, Trimarans, SWATHS, Surface Effects Ships, Very Slender Vessels (VSV) and other hull forms. VT Halter Marine uses modern efficient construction techniques including NC cutting, modular construction and zone outfitting. In addition, it designs and builds to the requirements of the USCG, US Navy, American Bureau of Shipping, Lloyds, Det Norske Veritas, IMO and other regulatory bodies and classification agencies.
VT Halter Marine can design and build to meet specific mission or operational requirements or modify an existing design from a comprehensive inventory of proven and operational designs – that is, vessels designed to specific mission or operational requirements. “That’s one of our major strengths,” says Skinner.
HURDLING THE INDUSTRY CHALLENGES
Meanwhile, the company’s future looks as bright as a sunrise on the ocean. “We have been fortunate in that we’ve maintained a five-year backlog; in this industry, it is always a challenge to maintain a backlog. This backlog offers us unique opportunities to be selective in the programs we accept and the products we build,” says Skinner. “We’re doubly fortunate because with years of new construction effort in front of us – and our new repair facility coming on line – we will be able to keep work several years out in front of us. This will enable us to maintain our stable, experienced workforce so that they can continue the tradition of unsurpassed quality and on time deliveries that VT Halter Marine is known for.”