US-based catamaran builder Gunboat officially opened its new production facility in North Carolina last week.

Based in Wanchese, a small village on Roanoke Island in Dare County, the 30,000sq ft facility will be used for the construction of the Gunboat 55 series alongside the Pure Yachting carbonfibre RIBs and larger custom Gunboat projects like the Gunboat 78 model.

The yard’s first project is the Nigel Irens-designed Gunboat 55.

“We are so grateful for the labour force here,” says Gunboat founder Peter Johnstone. The company previously built its cruising sailing catamarans at a facility in China.

“The can-do attitude of this island area is unbeatable," he says. "We could have set up shop anywhere. We chose Wanchese. We will do our best to meet everyone’s expectations. We’re incredibly grateful for the warm welcome to the community, and the outpouring of support. This is a very special area.”

NC Governor Beverly Perdue's office, the State Department of Commerce, the Boating Services office of the State's Small Business Technology Development Center, and the NC Rural Center played an integral role in Gunboat’s relocation effort, finding suitable sites, securing key grants to refurbish state property and assisting at each step.

Having already secured a number of contracts, Gunboat is expecting a busy year ahead. The company currently employs 20 people and there are plans to increase this number to 70 in the coming years.

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