Carlyle and Stellex built a bi-coastal ship repair biz in Titan, before selling it to Lone Star

Titan acquired CMSD in 2020 to establish a strategic footprint in San Diego.

The US Navy’s need to modernize and expand has fueled the growth of Titan Acquisition Holdings, a bi-coastal ship repair services provider, said David Waxman, a managing director at Stellex Capital Management, in an interview with PE Hub.

Stellex and The Carlyle Group bought Titan in 2019. In June, the two PE firms sold it to Lone Star Funds for an undisclosed amount.

Based in Portland, Oregon, Titan offers ship repair services as well as marine and heavy complex fabrication to the US Navy, US Coast Guard, Military Sealift Command, US Army, Boeing, cruise lines, fishing fleets, barges, ferry services for local and state governments, and other key commercial and US government customers.

David Waxman, Stellex Capital Management

“There is a significant need for repair services that can only be met by a very small number of shipyards that have the combined facilities, skills and workforce to meet the needs of the Navy,” Waxman said.

The investors identified the opportunity to create a “bi-costal leader” in ship repair by combining MHI on the East Coast and Vigor Industrial on the West Coast. “The combined company operated the largest number of floating dry docks on the West Coast, which were critical to support the Navy’s expansion plans and shift to the Pacific.”

Several strategies were helpful to make this investment successful, Waxman said. The company acquired Continental Maritime of San Diego (CMSD) in 2020 to establish a strategic footprint in San Diego, the largest homeport for Navy ships on the West Coast.

The company also expanded organically into Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, “another important homeport for the Navy,” together with expanding the servicing of Navy ships in Portland and Seattle, Waxman said.

Titan also reoriented the fabrication business towards more profitable areas where it had competitive advantages, the Stellex managing director noted. This included redirecting the fabrication business away from areas like commercial barges to more defense work and niche infrastructure.

Turning to how the business navigated the pandemic, Waxman said, “This created additional strain on management and required additional safety protocols to protect the workforce while working in constrained spaces that are commonplace in the ship repair industry.”

The services that the company offers are critical to the nation. “We believe the company is a national asset,” Waxman said. “We take the stewardship of the company in this context very seriously, along with providing the best possible services for the Navy and those individuals who serve in the Navy.”

The partnership between Carlyle and Stellex in this sector is continuing. The duo invested in Armada, a company that was formed in 2021 through the combination of International Marine and Industrial Applications (IMIA) and USMP Holdings.

“We continue to participate in the ship repair industry, and are looking for ways to expand that participation,” Waxman said.