Although it may have been called by different names, the 160-year-old Newport Shipyard continues to serve the needs of mariners in Newport Harbor. Established in 1834, the shipyard is one of the oldest continuously operating marine industrial firms in America. Over the years, it has seen ups and downs, with the business having gone through bankruptcy several times in the past decades.
The yard's most recent owner, New York Yacht Club Commodore Charlie Dana, and shareholders, David Ray and Lloyd Ecclestone, now have ambitious plans for the historic yard and hope to make it a premier yacht-service facility that can provide a wide variety of vessel services. The new owners began by giving the yard a complete facelift. In addition to having a 2000-ton marine railway capable of handling vessels up to 300 feet LOA, they also have a 330-ton Travelift on site, the largest in New England. The yard offers a complete range of ship services from fabrication to engine refits. Recently, the 1999 Vitters-built schooner Marguerite received a meticulous new Awlgrip finish here, and Sumrun, a 94-foot 1914 Fife design, went through a major refit.
In an effort to attract yachtsmen and their crews, the new Newport Shipyard provides such amenities as a crew lounge, conference areas, computer stations, laptop Internet connection ports, wireless Internet connection throughout, and a surround-sound theater. There are laundry and shower facilities along with an upscale cafe for breakfast or lunch. The yard also provides local transportation as well as airport pickup and delivery.
Judging by the number and size of the boats at the dock, the yard's immediate future looks bright. In August, they plan to host the Megayacht Challenge 2002, an exclusive worldwide competition of 30 yachts of 100 feet LOA or longer. While this may reinforce their image as megayacht experts, the yard has not forgotten its industrial heritage and will continue to provide traditional services to government and commercial ships.