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Knight & Carver secures $6 million contract

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Knight & Carver YachtCenter, in partnership with M Ship Co. of San Diego, has been awarded a $6 million contract to construct a high-speed 80-by-40-foot transport vessel for the U.S. Navy.

The hull of the M Ship 80 is so named for its patented double-M hull.

Characterized by its patented, carbon-fiber "double-M" hull -- which provides stability, maneuverability and a minimal wake at high speeds -- the "M Ship 80" will be built by Knight & Carver, located on San Diego Bay, in approximately eight months, with work expected to start Nov. 1.

The vessel, most accurately described as a large-scale, high-speed test platform, was designed by the marine design firm of M Ship Co., headed by Charles Robinson and William Burns.

The M Ship 80 project has been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Defense's Office of Force Transformation (OFT) and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, headquartered in Newport, R.I.

The vessel will be powered by four Caterpillar engines, with an anticipated cruising speed of 40 to 50 knots. Because of its double M-Hull (its hull consists of two M-shaped hulls adjacent to each other), M Ship 80 will provide the U.S. Navy with a faster and more efficient way to transport troops, equipment and supplies to combat regions around the world.

"This contract marks a significant step forward for our company," said Sampson Brown, president and chief executive officer of Knight & Carver. "While we have repaired a wide variety of military vessels in recent years, this is the first major military construction project we have undertaken. We are proud to join in this exciting partnership with M Ship Co. and the U.S. Navy."

Knight & Carver intends to supplement its existing work force for the project, with initial hires starting immediately.

"We're thrilled that the Navy has recognized the world-class partnership we've put together to build a revolutionary ship design that could transform the way the Navy moves on the water," said William Burns of M Ship Co.

In M-Hull vessels, as designed and patented by M Ship Co., the compression of the air beneath the hull creates an air cushion and increases propulsion efficiency by converting wave energy to boat lift.

The technology is relatively new, dating back only to 1999, when, based on a newly created design by M Ship Co., Knight & Carver built a 65-foot M-Hull water-taxi for commercial use in the wake-sensitive canals of Venice, Italy.

The vessel proved highly effective in minimizing water damage to the canals and promptly led M Ship Co. to consider similar applications of the M-Hull on both larger and smaller vessels.

As part of its partnership with M Ship Co., Knight & Carver has constructed a demo model of a 40-foot M-Hull motoryacht. Production of additional similar vessels is expected soon. A smaller, aluminum-hulled 38-foot prototype, featuring the M Hull with cruising speeds in excess of 40 knots, has been a frequent sight along San Diego Bay in recent months.

Knight & Carver YachtCenter maintains a work force of 175 employees. The company builds and repairs vessels for private and commercial use from 40 feet to 150 feet in length. Its specialties are custom-built luxury yachts and large commercial passenger vessels. The repair yard boasts one of the largest marine travelifts (330-ton capacity) in the United States. In addition, Knight & Carver's shipyard serves as a facility for the construction and repair of wind-turbine blades, utilized worldwide for cost-efficient energy production. In 2002 and 2003, Knight & Carver was cited by Inc. magazine and Harvard Business School as one of the nation's top 100 inner-city businesses.

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