Intermarine is no stranger to construction methods that are beyond the normal realm for yachtbuilding. Intermarine Savannah specializes in ship repairs and castings.
The yard started shipbuilding in 1909, when the Forest City Foundry built a yacht that was used as an auxiliary patrol vessel during World War I. In 1912 the Shipyard was purchased Walter Lee Mingledorff of Savannah, who renamed it the Savannah Machine and Foundry. The facility was used mainly for ship repair, and foundry castings. During World War II, under Mingledorff and his son, Walter Lee Jr., the shipyard built 20 minesweepers for the US Navy and six for the Royal Navy, along with three submarine rescue ships.
In 1968 the Savannah Machine and Foundry was sold to Aegis Corp. Under contract to the Military Sealift Command, the yard converted bulk carriers into container ships, and converted Victory ships into missile carriers. In 1984 Saylor Marine purchased the yard and continued ship repair operations for the US Coast Guard and commercial operators.
In the early 1980s, the US Navy began development of a new mine countermeasures (MCM) force, which included two new classes of ships and minesweeping helicopters. The vital importance of a state-of-the-art mine countermeasures force was strongly underscored in the Persian Gulf during the eight years of the Iran-Iraq war, and in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991. In 1987 part of the shipyard was leased to Intermarine USA in response to a US Navy contract to build large minehunters using composite materials. Intermarine completely renovated the shipyard and converted it into a modern composite manufacturing facility.
Osprey (MHC 51) class ships are mine hunter-killers capable of finding, classifying and destroying moored and bottom mines. The MHC 51 has a 15-day endurance and depends on a support ship or shore based facilities for resupply. The ship's hulls were solid, continuous monocoque structure laminated from special fiberglass and resin. It is easy to maintain and will flex to absorb the violent shock of an underwater mine explosion. The ships are designed to have a very low magnetic and acoustic signatures, giving them an added margin of safety during operation.
CEO and co-owner Thom Conboy began guiding the yard toward yacht construction in 1995, he wanted those same specialties to be applied to the yachts. Privately owned Intermarine employed about 320 workers. Intermarine retained much of the specialized construction and testing equipment as well as experienced staff on hand.
Intermarine's 21-acre shipyard on the Savannah River became a leading builder of world-class, fiberglass spec motoryachts from 95 feet to 145 feet long. It offered full-service repair/refit capabilities for yachts up to 500 feet. The shipyard's facilities included a 535-foot long graving dock with retractable cover, a covered shed spanning the entire wet slip, a covered paint booth accommodating two ships up to 200 feet each, and a 160,000-square-foot composite materials fabrication building.
C-Angel, the first 95-foot raised pilothouse motoryacht built at Intermarine Savannah's full-service shipyard, was delivered to its owner in November 2000. In 2002 Intermarine Savannah launched the first trideck 145 megayacht. The 145 was the yard's largest launch to date, with an elegantly designed interior. The yard was confident that the 145 demonstrated a better way to build a fiberglass yacht. The yacht, built on speculation with no customer, embodied the same deliberate principles as a commissioned project.
In 1999 Bernard Ebbers, CEO of Worldcom, formed Savannah Yacht & Ship LLC (doing business as Intermarine Savannah) and purchased the assets of Intermarine USA. Bernie Ebbers and WorldCom became the leading poster child in the rash corporate governance scandals. World Com acquired the yard in November 2002 in an attempt to recover losses related to Ebbers (and their own) financial woes.
In 2003 Palmer Johnson Savannah, under the leadership of new owner Timur Mohamed, geared up to start producing a new line of luxury sport yachts. Mohamed, an international businessman and former professional cricket player, is widely believed to have bankrolled the $9.8 million sale of Intermarine Savannah's assets to PJ Savannah in February 2003. He is PJ Savannah's sole owner. Palmer Johnson's other Savannah facility, in Thunderbolt had been a growing entity for several years. It was primarily a repair and refit facility.
In June 2004 Global Ship Systems (GSS), a locally based marine industrial repair company, bought the land, buildings, manufacturing equipment and all other assets - from Timur Mohamed. The price was not disclosed, although sources said it was around $12 million. Palmer Johnson will remain on site as a tenant, leasing the production facility for its new builds. GSS hoped to grow its workforce significantly by the end 2004, adding 90 new employees to the 60-person roster that included many former Intermarine workers.
The first of several Coast Guard cutters was scheduled for service in July 2004.
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