Further to its mid-August delivery, RMK Merrill-Stevens shipyard (RMK MS) is now home to the largest shiplift in South Florida. The 2,700-tonne shiplift was engineered by Miami-based Pearlson Shiplift Corporation (PSC).

RMK MS commissioned PSC for the design of the shiplift as one component of the complete redevelopment of the shipyard. The installation of the new shiplift and the broader renovation of the shipyard, reportedly costing over $30 million, arguably signals the resurgence of the marine industry in Miami, Florida.

Following the delivery of the shiplift, the team at RMK MS will install support equipment and begin commissioning to achieve Lloyd’s Register certification. RMK MS will have the capacity to haul yachts up to 72m long out of the water, and perform in-water service for vessels exceeding 72m.

RMK MS’ President and CEO Aaron Leatherwood said, “this shiplift is a game-changer for Miami and the US superyacht industry, adding much-needed capacity to the region and aiding in our effort to become Miami’s home for superyacht refit.” According to Leatherwood, “there couldn’t be a better time to invest in the marine industry in Miami,” as they continue on their voyage to become one of the top yacht refit destinations in the world.

As recently reported by SuperyachtNews, we have seen a slowdown in the new build market in recent years, and some clients are turning to refit shipyards as a means of receiving a quality product in a timely manner. The refit market is arguably the long-term future for our industry as the foundational sector, and the investment that shipyards such as RMK MS are putting in to their refit infrastructure illustrates this. At The Superyacht Forum this November, we will be discussing the foundations required to future-proof our industry, and the refit market is, predictably, going to be the topic of many conversations.

RMK MS will also reportedly bring roughly 100 new jobs to downtown Miami, split between the North and South yards which will operate as separate business units servicing all types of vessel, and a new 100-ton travel lift, recently acquired for the South Yard, brings additional capacity to the shipyard, enhancing the facilities capabilities to attract new clientele. The North Yard will now serve as the exclusive superyacht operation.

As a United States Coast Guard-qualified Pollution Prevention Officer, Leatherwood has been a keen advocate of environmental protection legislation, resulting in the utilisation of a state-of-the-art water filtration system at RMK MS. The system filters and recycles runoff water, preventing pollution to local waterways and improving conservation efforts.

RMK MS is now preparing for FLIBS, where the company will showcase its new Electronics Systems Division.

Merrill-Stevens was the first registered shipyard in Florida, with origins dating back to 1885, and now, RMK MS is becoming updated with a focus on new technology. In our upcoming edition of The Pacific Superyacht Report, we will look closely at the varying factors behind the region’s renaissance.

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