Navy working with VT Halter to build ships for Egypt

Published 7:51 pm Friday, November 24, 2006

VT Halter has been awarded a U.S. Navy contract to build three ships for the Egyptian navy, a move the company believes signals its full return after bankruptcy in 2001.

The U.S. Navy has given the company more than $165 million to begin gathering the necessary materials to build the ships. The money comes along with more than $28 million awarded in 2005 for conceptual design.

The company hasn’t secured Phase II of the contract to actually build the ships, which would increase the deal to $450 million. However, officials now believe the company likely build the ships.

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“We are now to the point where something very wrong would have to happen for us not to be awarded the Phase II contract,” said Boyd “Butch” King, chief executive officer of VT Halter. “We are looking forward to a long relationship with the Egyptian navy.”

The Egyptians will purchase the completed ships through the United States Foreign Military Sales Program.

The long lead time materials contract just awarded Halter allows the company to purchase all “hardware, software, licensing, design engineering, production engineering, manufacturing, test engineering, technical documentation, and program management through Factory Acceptance Testing and shipyard delivery of each respective system,” a Navy new release said.

VT Halter is designing three fast missile ships for the deal. The ships are expected to be about 200 feet in length with a top speed of around 40 knots or about 46 mph.

The Egyptian navy made a deal with Halter Marine in 2001 to build four similar ships. The deal was worth $406 million with the first ship scheduled for 2005 delivery.

Then Halter Marine declared bankruptcy, scuttling the deal. A year later VT Systems bought the company and brought it out of bankruptcy.

“(The deal) shows how far the three shipyards have come since the bankruptcy,” King said. “This is important, not only for VT Halter, but to the whole industry, to show that we have the capability and capacity to produce these complex ships along the Coast.”