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May 11, 2022

Military contractor, shipbuilder and marine equipment provider Birdon buys two Portland marina properties

Birdon In November, Birdon delivered the second (pictured here) of 117 U.S. Coast Guard motor lifeboats it is refurbishing under a 10-year-contract.

An Australian-based shipbuilding, design and maintenance company with U.S. military contracts recently paid $4.6 million for two marina properties along the Connecticut River in Portland.

Birdon Property LLC bought the property assets of the Portland Riverview Marina and Yankee Boatyard and Marina in simultaneous sales recorded on April 7.  The limited liability company shares a Denver, Colorado address with the Birdon Group’s U.S. headquarters. The LLC’s principal is Birdon Group CEO Jamie Bruce.

“They plan on continuing to run the marinas and also have a contract with the Coast Guard to refurbish cutters over the next eight years,” Portland First Selectman Ryan J. Curley said. “We are thrilled to have them in Portland.”

Curley said he toured the marinas with Birdon representatives about two weeks ago. Attempts by the Hartford Business Journal to reach a Birdon spokesperson were not immediately successful.

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Yankee Boatyard and Marina

The purchase of the neighboring Portland marina properties gives Birdon 31 acres along the Connecticut River, along with the associated warehouses, garages, docks and other facilities.

“They have big plans,” Curley said. “They are looking to make some expansions to the marinas, I think.”

Curley said Birdon representatives told him they would keep on existing marina staff and hire about 14 more this year.

Birdon currently has 13 job postings for Portland on its website, including advertisements for engineers, warehouse staff, assemblers, welding inspectors, marine electricians, a marine mechanic, marina yard worker and  warehouse lead.

Established in 1977 in New South Wales, Australia, Birdon is a family-owned company with subsidiaries serving both the recreational and military marine sectors. Birdon expanded to the U.S. in 2009, where it has four main business divisions: ship building and repair; disposals; engineering and marine propulsion.

In August 2019, Birdon announced it had secured contracts with the U.S. Army and U.S. Coast Guard worth up to $390 million.

A 10-year contract worth up to $191 million would see Birdon upgrade the U.S. Coast Guard fleet of 47-foot motor lifeboat vessels, according to the 2019 announcement. A second award, worth up to $199 million, extended by five years Birdon’s contract with the U.S. Army to supply bridge erection boats.

Under the Coast Guard “service life extension” program, the Coast Guard appointed Birdon American to redesign and upgrade its aging fleet of 117 motor lifeboats, according to Birdon’s 2019 announcement. The boats were reaching the end of their 25-year lifespan. The contract with Birdon was meant to upgrade the boat’s performance and add another 20 years to their service. That work was to be carried out in shipyards in Oregon and Virginia, according to the 2019 announcement.

In January, Birdon announced subsidiary NAMJet – also located in Denver – completed 34 water jet propulsion units for amphibious troop landers for Turkish Naval Forces Command. In March, Birdon announced a $17.8 million contract with the U.S. Navy to remove scrap metal and waste from a base in Diego Garcia, an island of the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Curley said the company had contemplated Portland for “a few months now” and that its arrival will be a great boon for the local economy. Curley anticipates the company will set roots in Portland extending beyond the current Coast Guard contract.

“They are already making plans for after the contract is completed,” Curley said. “We hope to have them here for many years to come.” 

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