Master Boat Builders featured on Discovery’s hit series “Dirty Jobs”

Written by Heather Ervin
Mike Rowe, host of Discovery's hit series, Dirty Jobs.

Mike Rowe, host of Discovery's hit series, Dirty Jobs (Credit: Discovery)

As Mike Rowe, host of Discovery’s popular reality series “Dirty Jobs” always says, “it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.” And at shipyards, such as Coden, Ala.-based Master Boat Builders, workers are doing just that—an essential dirty job that aids in getting consumer products, vital cargoes, and other commodities from place to place.

Scheduled to air Sunday, January 16 at 8/7c, the series is about more than just tough jobs; it’s about shining a spotlight on those who make an impact in our lives without many of us even knowing it.

Rowe will show viewers the ins-and-outs of building essential vessels that ensure cargo moves efficiently up and down our waterways. 

Specifically, he will highlight the importance of a particular category of workboat—the tugboat. Tugboats can be modest in size but enormous in importance. We all rely on goods and products brought to us on containerships, and none of those ships would be able to make it in-and-out of port without the assistance of a tugboat.

“What an incredible opportunity it is to have Mike Rowe and the Dirty Jobs team right here in our community to showcase to America the essential work performed by our shipyard workers both in our area and across the nation,” said Garrett Rice, president of Master Boat Builders.“The shipbuilding industry plays a vital role in the Gulf Coast’s economy. Right now in our shipyard alone, we have dozens of opportunities open from ship-fitters to project engineers and many exciting opportunities in between, and our industry is ready to hire the next generation of the shipbuilding workforce.”

According to Rice, Rowe spent approximately 10 hours back in March 2021 (when the show was recorded) in and around the shipyard doing various jobs, including crawling into the nooks and crannies of a double-bottom tank of an upside down vessel, where he definitely got dirty.

“He crawled into a three-foot tank with a torch to do some scrapping,” said Rice. “It’s dark and loud, and he had a guy working in a tank next to him beating on the walls with a hammer. He also learned how to weld in a tight spot. Shipyard work is dirty, hard work.”

Rice said the 10-person camera crew got nearly 12 hours of footage of which he was in two hours worth. “It’ll be interesting to see how they fit that into a 30-minute episode when it airs this weekend,” he said. “Mike really wanted to know how to do the job and it wasn’t scripted. He spent about an hour on pipefitting without much conversation with anyone. It was pretty neat to see.”

While the experience of working with Rowe and a TV camera crew was one Rice said he wouldn’t forget, he said he is mostly hoping the episode brings to people’s attention the importance of shipyard workers to the country’s economy. “The shipyard environment is the epitome of a job where people work hard,” he said. “We talk about the importance of our shipyard workers here and all over the country who work in a grueling job no matter what the weather conditions are who don’t normally get the recognition they deserve unless people like Mike Rowe come around.”


On March 30, Rice will be speak at Marine Log’s TTB (Tugs, Towboats & Barges) event in Mobile, Ala., on the special hybrid tug project, the Spartan.

Registration is now open, with the Early Bird discount ending on January 28.

An internationally recognized vessel and workboat manufacturer, Master Boat Builders was established in 1979.

Over the past 30 years, Master Boat Builders has built and delivered approximately 430 vessels to customers all over the world, including tugboats, offshore supply vessels, fishing vessels, and dive support vessels. The shipyard manufactures boats for major corporations, maritime industry operators, fishing businesses, and individuals with a focus on quality, reliability, utilization, safety and cost-effectiveness.

Its deeply experienced senior management team has decades of shipbuilding design, construction, and operational expertise and is ingrained in all daily functions from concept through delivery.

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