SEATTLE – On March 8, Washington Governor Jay Inslee officially kicked off the construction of M/V Samish, the state’s second new 144-car ferry, by welding the initials of his grandson, Brody Robert Inslee, into the keel of the M/V Samish at Vigor Industrial’s Seattle shipyard. Earlier in the week, US Fab, the Vigor company building the ferries, hit a major project milestone on the first vessel, the M/V Tokitae, when the company successfully transferred the 1,110-ton superstructure onto the hull from a barge. The superstructure was built by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on nearby Whidbey Island.
Joined by state transportation officials, community leaders, and senior Vigor executives, the governor praised the hard work of the state’s maritime industry and ferry workers before getting down to work. “This maritime industry is embedded in the legacy of Washington,” said Inslee, who pledged to fight for that industry and to keep Washington’s much needed new ferries built in Washington.
Earlier in the week, US Fab workers successfully moved the 1,110-ton, 270’x80’x45′ superstructure of the Tokitae onto the hull while both structures were in floating drydocks. Too heavy to lift by cranes, US Fab was tasked with devising a way to get the massive superstructure on top of the 362’x83’x24′ hull they recently finished fabricating. In the end, the maritime experts decided to complete the hull transfer on the waters of Puget Sound.
The team put the superstructure, still on the barge, in one of Vigor’s three floating drydocks in Seattle and put the hull in another. After lining the drydocks up end-to-end, the team adjusted the buoyancy of each drydock to align the top of the hull with the bottom of the superstructure. Working with heavy lifting contractor Omega Morgan, the team laid down 600 feet of track to bridge the distance between the hull and the superstructure. Working over five hours, and constantly adjusting the weight distributions of each drydock, the team successfully made the transit and placed the superstructure on the hull.
“These vessels pose interesting engineering challenges because we are constructing major portions of the ship in different locations,” said Chris Morgan, vice president of US Fab. Major subcontractors include Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Whidbey Island, Jesse Engineering of Tacoma, Greer Tanks of Lakewood, ELTEC and Performance Contracting in Seattle.
Both boats are currently on schedule and on budget. The Tokitae is scheduled to be delivered in early 2014, and it will be followed by the Samish in early 2015.