Chouest buys Washington yacht builder

Gary Chouest, who founded the Galliano shipyard Edison Chouest, has led a group that purchased Westport Shipyard Inc., a Washington company that is one of largest yacht builders in North America.

Westport LLC, a group that included Chouest and members of his family, acquired the shipyard. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Along with Edison Chouest, the Chouest family also owns American Custom Yachts, of Stuart, Florida.

Westport has three shipyards in Washington state and a marina and sales office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The company, which has more than 400 employees, has built more than 120 yachts since 2000. The company’s yachts cost several million dollars.

“Similar to the history of the Chouest family business, Westport began five decades ago with a fishing fleet and has diversified into many other core businesses, focusing on customer satisfaction and the pursuit of excellence,” Chouest said.

Chouest said he looks forward to pursuing synergies that exist among Edison Chouest, American Custom Yachts and Westport.

“We will continue to pursue the employment of skilled local workers and will remain an active participant in the communities Westport serves,” Chouest said.

“Gary (Chouest) has always been passionate about our industry, and we are honored to count him as a customer and now our majority owner, as well,” said Daryl Wakefield, Westport’s president, who will remain in that position, along with the rest of Westport’s management team and employees.

Founded as Edison Chouest Boat Rental in Galliano in 1960, the Edison Chouest Offshore companies operate a growing fleet of more than 200 vessels in a global market.

Some of its other operations include vessel support facilities at Port Fourchon and shipyard facilities North American Shipbuilding in Larose, which builds specialized offshore service vessels; LaShip in Houma, which is equipped for a range of new construction projects, as well as repairs, conversions and refits; Gulf Ship in Gulfport, Mississippi, where products include true tractor tugs, supporting liquefied natural gas terminals along the Louisiana and Texas coasts; Tampa Ship, a ship conversion, overhaul and repair facility in Tampa Bay, Florida; and Estaleiro Navship in Navegantes, Brazil, which does construction, inspections and repairs for a growing Brazilian fleet.