Thunderbolt Marine Inc (TMI) is located on a 25 acre site on the Wilmington River three miles southeast of Savannah, an area which enjoys a rich history of seafaring tradition. In the 1800s Ft. Thunderbolt stood on the site serving as one of a string of inland water batteries during the US Civil War. The boat basin was originally established by Asa Candler, the founder of Coca-Cola, and was used by the US Army during World War II as a staging area for offshore patrol and rescue vessels.
W.E. Honey and Latex Construction Company purchased the property in 1965 to support its dredging operations. In 1969, Thunderbolt Marina started operations and erected the first dry-stack boat storage building in this area. Thunderbolt Marina also sold runabouts and outboard engines. In the late 1960's Thunderbolt Marine developed a first-class yacht repair facility with the Syncrolift and rail system that is still in use today. The company eventually shifted to commercial and government vessel construction and repair, building tugs and barges. In 1981 the company changed its name to Thunderbolt Marine Industries to better reflect the broader type of marine work being accomplished. Three tractor tugs were constructed for the Panama Canal Company. Thunderbolt Marine Inc. (TMI) was incorporated in 1985 and undertook various marine construction and dredging projects.
Lockheed Shipbuilding Company leased the yard for five years starting in 1986 to construct LCU 2000 Landing Craft for the US Army. In 1992, Palmer Johnson leased the yard and accomplished yacht repair and refit projects until departing in September of 2003.
In October, 2003, Bill Honey, the founder's son, resumed TMI's full service operations for yacht refit and repair. Yard facilities included cabinetry, canvas & upholstery, electrical, electronic, fine finish, HVAC, hydraulic, joiner, machine, metal, paint, rigging and varnish shops with hauling capabilities of 1,150 tons by Syncrolift and 150 tons by Marine Travelift.
In 2009 TMI moved shops and administrative offices to the renovated buildings on the north side of the facility, also adding offices for use by captains and crew. The move made way for demolition of all but one building (now service bay 203) and in 2010, construction began on our vessel service building and state-of-the-art spray booth. The completion of the rail transfer pit extension allows for extremely efficient movement of yachts when relocation is necessary between service bays, the spray booth and outdoor hard standing space.
In 2015 we relocated our canvas and upholstery shop to make room for the Crew Lounge available to all active crewmembers of yachts at Thunderbolt Marine for service. As a working service yard, we understand that it's important to have a place to get off the boat for a while and we are happy to provide a space that is clean, comfortable and welcoming. We've converted a residence just across from our main gate into a space with a gym, lots of games including foosball and a pool table, lounge area, office, laundry and prep galley and lots of space. The large yard and deck out back has an outdoor kitchen, tables and a lounge area.
In early summer of 2015 we will have completed installation of overhead gantry cranes in all service bays. Our facility upgrades are in response to and to accommodate the needs and requirements of our customers whose satisfaction is key to our success.