Skip to main content

Metal Shark Delivers New Pilot Boat and Port Security to the Virgin Islands

May 08, 2018 10:11AM ● By Camille Mosley

Jeanerette, LA – Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark has delivered two new custom welded aluminum vessels to the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA).

The vessels, designed by Metal Shark and built at the company’s Jeanerette production facility, were recently delivered to St. Thomas and transferred to VIPA. Both vessels are now operating from the Edward Wilmoth Blyden IV Marine Facility on the Charlotte Amalie waterfront where they serve the island of St. Thomas and also nearby St. John.

The new pilot boat is a 45-foot Defiant-class monohull pilothouse vessel with a military-proven hull design and a unique deck arrangement specifically designed for pilot operations.

Additional features include a galley, enclosed head compartment, v-berth, and large walk-in mid-cabin storage compartment.

 VIPA has named its new pilot boat the “George Freeman” in honor of its first coxswain, George Elwin Freeman Sr., who worked for VIPA for 33 years until his passing in 2000.

For its new port security patrol boat, VIPA selected Metal Shark’s 32’ Defiant, a proven patrol platform with over 100 units in military and law enforcement service worldwide.

Funded in part by a FEMA Port Security Grant, the vessel has been outfitted with a positive-pressure Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosive (CBRNE) crew protection system to assure safe and uninterrupted operation in a wide range of disaster response scenarios.

Powered by twin Evinrude E-TEC G2 300HP outboard engines, VIPA’s 32 Defiant port security vessel cruises at 35 knots and achieves top speeds approaching 50 knots.

“Both of these vessels offer significant improvements over the boats they’re replacing, in terms of crew safety, comfort, and efficiency, and port operations will undoubtedly be enhanced as a result of these acquisitions,” said Carl Wegener, Metal Shark’s Vice President of Commercial Sales. “With additional pilot boats now in production, we look forward to demonstrating to pilots and port operators everywhere the many advantages a custom Metal Shark pilot boat can bring to their organizations.”

Established in 1986, Gravois Aluminum Boats LLC, and its government/commercial boat entity Metal Shark Boats are leading suppliers of custom boats for defense, law enforcement, and commercial entities. Key customers include the United States Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, Army, foreign militaries, law enforcement agencies, passenger vessel operators, pilot associations, fire departments, and other operators worldwide. Under the direction of its owner/operator Allard and Gravois families, Metal Shark has produced over 600 vessels in the past three years at its two fully self-contained South Louisiana production facilities. Metal Shark produces a wide range of custom monohull and catamaran vessels up to 250’, for more information visit