BASS HARBOR, Maine — Morris Yachts has been awarded the contract to build four 44-foot sailing vessels for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy for use in its Leadership 44 sail training program.
The company will begin construction on the new boats, each costing more than $800,000, by the end of this year, according to Cuyler Morris, president of Morris Yachts. The new project will allow the company to rehire as many as 20 workers who were furloughed this summer because of economic conditions.
“This is a very prestigious and timely contract for Morris Yachts,” Morris said. “It is an honor to be chosen by our country’s Coast Guard to build these craft. These vessels are the foundation of leadership training at the Coast Guard Academy.”
The training vessels were designed by David Pederick for use by the U.S. Navy. There have been a few modifications to the design to adapt them for use in the Coast Guard Academy’s sail training leadership program.
They will replace the decades-old Luders-designed vessels the academy now uses. The new sailboats are designed to be a floating leadership platform for the academy’s Coastal Sail Training Program, which provides experience that is difficult to re-create with large cutters. The academy, which is in New London, Conn., also uses the American Eagle, a 295-foot cutter, as part of its sail training program.
The academy, working with its alumni association and the Coast Guard Foundation, has begun a capital campaign to raise funds to purchase the boats.
“We look at the partnership of designer and builder for our Leadership 44 program as a huge win-win for everybody involved,” said Bob Hallock, the Leadership 44 procurement chairman, in a prepared statement. “We have in David Pedrick one of the most acclaimed yacht designers in the world, and in our builder, Morris Yachts, we have arguably the finest builder in the country and a firm that will be our partner long after our last boat is launched.”
Morris said the boatyard would rehire mechanics, electricians, carpenters and composite craftspeople this fall to work on the project. They will join the 75 service and production employees now working at the yard.
The first Leadership 44 is scheduled to be launched next September with one boat to be delivered in each of the succeeding months. Although the initial contract is for four of the sailboats, the academy hopes to build as many as eight vessels, one for each cadet company.
Meanwhile, the boat yard will be busy this winter filling orders for four M36 sailboats from customers in Australia, Chicago, Islesboro and Bar Harbor. Those are scheduled for delivery next spring.
“We all have heard enough about the slowdown, and it has been a difficult year, no doubt, but interest in Morris Yachts — inquiries, demos, yard visits etc. — [has] never been stronger,” Morris said. “As folks gain confidence, we will see boat sales.”
Morris Yachts is among the nominees for the 2010 Boat of the Year Award. Its M29 and M52 sailboats were nominated by Cruising World and Sailing World magazine. The announcement was made recently at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis. The awards, which recognize the best new sailboat models introduced to the North American market, will be announced in January.