Picton-based naval architecture company Naiad has joined The Whiskey Project Group – an Australian watercraft design and manufacturing company offering a family of vessels for defence and law-enforcement agencies – as well as specialist leisure craft.

The Whiskey Project Group was formed after its acquisition of New South Wales boat manufacturer Yamba Welding and Engineering (YWE) – which itself acquired Naiad earlier this year from founder Steve Schmidt and his wife Jenny.

Darren Schuback, co-founder and managing director of The Whiskey Project Group, says the acquisition of YWE and Naiad marks the coming together of great Australian and New Zealand businesses and heralds an exciting future for Australian watercraft design and manufacturing.

“The new formation secures advanced maritime manufacturing capabilities, with a natural crossover of technology and skilled labour between government, specialist and leisure sectors.”

The Whiskey Project’s next-generation tactical watercraft, Whiskey Alpha, was launched at the 2019 Pacific International Maritime Expo and acclaimed for its integrated technologies, fitfor-purpose design, modularity and its carbon composite hull.

Ryan Carmichael (L) and Darren Schuback (R) Directors The Whiskey Project Group.

YWE, established in the northern NSW coastal town of Yamba by Bill Collingburn in 1974, is a trusted supplier of watercraft for police, Coastguard, marine rescue, government agencies and the Defence Force. It has built more than 200 vessels for Australian federal and state government agencies over the past 10 years. Collingburn is staying in the business as YWE Technical Advisor.


Naiad boats, often described as ‘4WDs of the Sea’ and praised for their aesthetic appeal, are built under license around the world. The vessels are popular among federal and state government military, law enforcement and rescue agencies, but are also used for commercial, tourism and recreational applications, as well as superyacht tenders.

“The Whiskey Project, YWE and Naiad have a remarkable cultural synergy that will make the group a formidable Australian, New Zealand and global solution for high performance watercraft,” says Schuback. “The export opportunities are excellent. Naiad already has global reach, and we’re looking to extend this and take our production to the world.”