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    The Navy Blows Up a Lot of This Company’s Boats, and Business Is Good

    The Navy Blows Up a Lot of This Company's Boats, and Business Is Good

    If you've driven down Bellingrath Road in the last 25 years or so, headed for the historic home and gardens of the same name, you've passed an eye-catching landmark: An arrowhead-shaped aluminum boat with “Silver Ships” in script on its side.

    “The sign” makes it easy to guess that the warehouses behind the grassy lawn and the one-of-a-kind lawn ornament are home to a shipbuilder. If you know just a little more, you know that Silver Ships builds a lot of boats specifically for the U.S. Navy to shoot at. In fact, the company recently announced the biggest contract in its history, a Navy deal that could be worth over $48 million for nearly 250 of the fast target boats.

    But it turns out there's more to the Silver Ships story than churning out small vessels that are going to be hit with missiles, bombed, and generally shot to tatters. A recent tour of the shipyard found a Gulf Coast business making the most of its multi-building, 32-acre campus.

    Dozens of boats in various stages of construction were on site.  Steven Clarke estimated there were more than 50 vessels on-site. Some were just kits of cut aluminum plates that hadn't been welded up into hulls yet; others looked virtually complete. They included target boats, camouflage-painted river patrol boats bound for foreign service, Coast Guard rapid-response craft, at least one firefighting boat and craft designed for use by Marines and…

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