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Noank Shipyard/Seaport Marine announces major expansion of its Bridgeport operation

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Bridgeport — The owners of Noank Shipyard and Seaport Marine in Mystic have announced they are investing $8 million in their Bridgeport Boatworks operation and have signed a long-term contract to run a vessel maintenance facility to serve the Hornblower Group, a firm that runs ferries in New York City and across North America and the United Kingdom. 

Harry Boardsen, owner of Bridgeport Boatworks, said Wednesday that he plans to add a 700-ton travel lift at the 16-acre shipyard to service the Hornblower fleet and future clients. He said Hornblower plans to add 40 to 60 jobs at the boatyard, while his firm will grow its workforce by another 30 employees.

Among its many ferry and cruise line services, Hornblower operates the official ferry boat service to Alcatraz Island, the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Memorial Museum, as well as Hornblower Niagara Cruises.

Boardsen called the agreement between Bridgeport Shipyard, Hornblower and RCI Group, which is developing the Steelpointe Harbor area, exciting and said the entities continued working on the agreement through the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the new development is expected to be in operation in the second half of this year and will make Bridgeport Boatworks "an important hub for regional maritime services."  

The property had operated previously as Derecktor Shipyard but then it went bankrupt and sat vacant for a decade.

Being in the boatyard business, Boardsen said it always nagged him that such a beautiful waterfront asset was sitting dormant. So, when the Bridgeport Port Authority sought proposals for the property, he submitted one and it was selected. Bridgeport Boatworks opened in 2018 with 74-ton and 200-ton travel lifts.

Boardsen is bullish on the future of Bridgeport, saying the harbor area is a beautiful spot undergoing a renaissance with a host of projects, from those already completed, such as RCI's development of a marina and Bass Pro Shop, to those that are planned, such as Live Nation conversion of the former ballpark into Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater live music venue. In a few years he said the coal plant there will be decommissioned, opening up more harborfront land for development.    

Meanwhile, Boardsen said he expects a very busy summer for Seaport Marine and Noank Shipyard.

j.wojtas@theday.com 

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