Americraft Marine, a maritime subsidiary of the Libra Group, announced the acquisition of St. Johns Ship Building, a full-service marine facility specializing in constructing and repairing Jones Act-compliant vessels, including those used to service offshore wind turbines.
Based in Palatka, Florida near Jacksonville, St. Johns Ship Building leads in the new construction and repair of a wide variety of steel and aluminum vessels, including ferries, tugs, deck and tank barges, landing crafts, and general cargo vessels. Significantly, it is also one of the few U.S. shipyards that builds vessels that support and service offshore wind farms.
Americraft Marine is a subsidiary of the Libra Group, a privately-owned international business group whose subsidiaries own and operate assets in more than 50 countries. This announcement comes at a time of significant need for Jones Act-compliant vessels. The production of vessels in the U.S. has declined in recent years. In addition, significant shipbuilding capacity will be needed over the next 10-15 years to support the upcoming demand for vessels that construct and service renewable energy infrastructure. On June 6, U.S. President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to address the urgent need for clean energy technologies made in America. This acquisition, long in the works, leverages the proven capabilities of St. Johns Ship Building in constructing offshore wind servicing vessels, along with Libra Group’s global experience in renewable energy and deep maritime heritage.
With facilities including a storm-protected 100-acre inland campus with a 850-ton floating drydock, St. Johns Ship Building is positioned to accelerate production of Jones Act-compliant vessels, particularly the construction and maintenance of offshore wind supply and support vessels. Americraft Marine intends to further bolster capacity at St. Johns Ship Building through workforce trainings, leveraging the yard’s proven expertise with the goal of creating a best-in-class future-focused shipyard.
“As a group that has over 45 years of maritime heritage through our original subsidiary Lomar Shipping, as well as significant renewable energy experience through four global clean energy subsidiaries, we are proud to invest in the future of U.S. competitiveness and energy security,” said Libra Group Chairman and CEO George M. Logothetis. “With seasoned leaders who have decades of experience in the maritime industry and existing client relationships, Americraft Marine and St. Johns Ship Building will build upon and bolster the U.S. fleet, meeting government and customer needs while supporting the nation’s economic and clean energy future.”
The shipbuilding sector is critical to America’s strong industrial economy and provides economic opportunity to coastal communities through long-term jobs. It is also vital to U.S. energy independence, which has become more crucial due to ongoing trade tensions, the geopolitical landscape and economic climate.
“Americraft Marine is proud to acquire St. Johns Ship Building, which has the right leadership and skilled workforce to accelerate the future of U.S. shipbuilding and advance the urgent need for Jones Act-compliant, future-focused U.S. vessels,” said Omear Khalid, CEO of Americraft Marine. “Our goal is simple: to build a best-in-class Jones Act-compliant shipyard. Americraft Marine will provide stable industrial jobs, invest in workforce training, and leverage St. Johns’ proven expertise as well as the historical maritime heritage of the Libra Group.”
The acquisition is the first for Americraft Marine, which anticipates future organic and acquisition-based growth that addresses the dire need for modern, state-of-the-art vessels, including those that are eco-friendly as more Jones Act-compliant vessels age out of work. The company expects future expansions to prioritize investments that are sustainable and position the U.S. for leadership in the clean energy future by building and maintaining vessels that support renewable energy projects.