Page 32: of Marine News Magazine (September 2019)
Vessel Conversion and Repair
SHIPBUILDING & REPAIR
Putting Palatka Back on the Map:
Diverse and conveniently located, St. Johns Ship Building has quickly developed into a reliable partner for its many repeat customers. Today, and as a direct result, a lot more people know exactly where Palatka, Florida is located.
By Rick Eyerdam n the St Johns River, just 60 miles south of Jack- GIANT TUGS AND FERRIES AMONG THE PINES sonville, lies the sleepy town of Palatka, Florida. Nestled amid the pines and along the banks of the river,
Founded as a trading post in 1821, its location on is the 98-acre, full-service shipbuilding and repair facility the highly navigable river made the area attractive to or- known as St. Johns Ship Building (SJSB). Founded in 2007, ange growers and timber men alike. the President and Owner, Steven Ganoe, his management
In its heyday between 1875 and 1900, Palatka – “the team, and craftsmen have steadily grown the operation into gateway to Florida’s interior” – was a tourist destination a capable shipbuilding and repair business. What began as with several posh hotels having the capacity to host up to a modest facility is now capable of drydocking vessels up to 6,000 guests. Palatka was known in those days as “The 1,100 tons, has over 1,800-feet of wet dock area, features
Gem of the St Johns River.” Unfortunately, the ? re of a 425-foot by 75-foot fabrication shop, and 20,000 square 1884 destroyed the grand hotels. Deep freezes in 1894 and foot Aluminum Assembly Building. They have earned an 1895 ruined the citrus groves. Commerce sadly declined. outstanding reputation for quality and workmanship and
Today, Palatka boasts a stable economy that is ready for now routinely handle of a variety of products to include off- commercial growth. It has a historic downtown business shore supply vessels, aluminum construction, landing crafts, district with murals on many of its buildings and a beauti- dive boats, tugs, barges and other types of vessels for both ful waterfront park. Just down the road from that park, if commercial and government operators. In other words, the one were to venture west toward the historic Stokes Land- perfect venue for workboat newbuilding and repairs.
ing made memorable by William Bartram in his 18th Cen- The customers of SJSB are about 70 percent American tury explorations, at the end of the road, he or she would owned. That’s not to say they can’t compete in the work- ? nd the gates leading to one of Palatka’s modern day com- boat export markets. They can and do. Ganoe says, “We mercial gems: St John’s Ship Building. have built vessels for four different countries, but we are al-
Credit: Vane 32 MN
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