George Logothetis-led Libra Group has acquired St. Johns Ship Building, a Jones Act-compliant shipyard specialised on the offshore wind vessel sector.
The takeover was announced today by Americraft Marine, a newly formed Libra subsidiary established to purchase the Palatka, Florida-based shipyard.
The deal marks further diversification for the privately-owned Libra group, which is best known in shipping circles for its container, bulker and chemical tanker company Lomar Shipping.
St. Johns is one of the few US-based shipyards that builds vessels that support and service offshore wind farms.
The yard will be used to “build upon and bolster the US fleet, meeting government and customer needs while supporting US economic and clean energy future”, Logothetis said.
The timing of Libra’s bid to expand production of vessels for clean energy projects comes amid growing political support for such projects from the US administration.
It comes days after President Biden invoked the Defence Production Act (DPA) on 6 June, designed to address the urgent need for clean energy technologies made in America.
Americraft and St Johns cited the “significant need” for Jones Act-compliant vessels, noting that production of vessels in the US has declined in recent years, the companies said.
Significant shipbuilding capacity will be needed over the next 10-15 years to support the upcoming demand cycle for renewable energy vessels, they added.
Americraft intends to increase production of vessels protected by the Jones Act, particularly the construction and maintenance of offshore wind supply and support vessels.
"Our goal is simple, to create a best-in-class, future-focused shipyard," said Americraft CEO Omear Khalid.
Future expansions will prioritise investments that are sustainable and position the US for leadership in the clean energy future by building and maintaining vessels that support renewable energy projects.
St. Johns is situated around 30 miles southwest of Jacksonville on fresh water with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean.
The yard is specialised in steel and aluminium vessels, including ferries, tugs and general cargo vessels.
The shipyard is listed with around 140 employees and an order book including multiple contracts for high-speed aluminium crew transfer vessels (CTV).
The dockyard is equipped with facilities including a storm-protected 100-acre inland campus with a 850-tonne floating drydock.