Boats are not normally made to be sunk, but manufacturing a vessel to do just that has propelled 70-year-old A. F. Theriault & Son Ltd.from traditional boat building into cutting edge innovation, and helping to train navies around the world in the process.

A need to diversify from dependence upon the local fishing industry was what first inspired the Nova Scotia-based boatbuilding company to partner with Meggitt Training Systems Canada Inc. to develop innovative new boatbuilding techniques and a new training vessel that would revolutionize live military operation exercises — and open up a whole new world of opportunity in international markets.

The Hammerhead Unmanned Surface Vehicle Target (or, USV-T) soon emerged from their collaborative efforts — a new radio-operated training boat designed for use in navy training exercises in Canada and around the world. Cost effective and disposable, the units are made to simulate a multi-vessel swarm threat in the water.

Today, A. F. Theriault & Son has already manufactured several high speed Hammerhead hulls— which they have sold to the Canadian navy—and which are generating interest from navy forces around the world.

As one of the largest privately owned shipyards in the Atlantic region, the company, established in 1938, employs over 150 people and is now in its third generation of boatbuilding and repair under the direction of its President, Arthur Theriault.

“All of our recent projects — whether they are focused on technological innovation, increasing efficiencies or diversification — would not have been possible without support from ACOA,” says Theriault.

Thanks to assistance from ACOA’s Business Development Program, the Atlantic Investment Partnership, and the Technology Advancement Program, the company has brought several important projects forward.

Projects like constructing new installations and building experimental boats … not to mention hiring specialized staff.

Meanwhile, the company’s efforts to innovate and diversify are certainly gaining them praise in high places — including prestigious recognition as a processing company in the 2009 Laurier de la PME, a national prize recognizing excellence in Francophone entrepreneurship and small business across Canada.

All in all, it’s just another reason to believe this is one longstanding company that will continue to sail the waters of success for years to come.

Want to see the Hammerhead in action? Check out this clip from the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet, which aired September 10th, 2010.

SOURCE: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)

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