Shipbuilders of Seattle

It’s a few minutes before 8 a.m., and the early shift at Vigor Industrial’s Seattle shipyard is all over their projects: Washington State Ferries vessels, a Navy destroyer, a University of Washington research ship and a Coast Guard cutter in off a long deployment.

“This is for the fourth Washington state ferry,” said Carol Reid, Vigor’s manager of marketing, as we walked by a fabricated steel section and into a shed clamoring with tool noise and the blue flickers of welding.

Last week, a day before the annual Pacific Marine Expo opened at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, I went over the bridge to check out Vigor’s 27-acre Harbor Island facility.

With 700 workers, it is a 24/7 operation. At one berth was the USS Gridley, a 510’x66’x31’ Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyer, that arrived two weeks ago for work after transferring to her new homeport of Everett, Wash.

Next over, the 382’x73’x18’6” Washington ferry Kaleetan, in drydock for maintenance. Then the Coast Guard cutter Bertholf, a 418’x54’22’6” National Security Cutter in for work after eastern Pacific drug interdiction patrols that captured a record tonnage of cocaine and smugglers in semisubmersible boats.

The University of Washington’s research vessel Thomas G. Thompson came in last summer for a $23 million contract from the Office of Naval Research and National Science Foundation that will extend by 25 years the service life of the 274’x52’6”x19’ vessel built in 1990.

Finally we came to the Chimacum, third in the series of four Olympic-class Washington state ferries that are replacing old boats dating back to the 1960s. The $122 million, 362’x83’ vessel is getting its coats of trademark green and white paint, before delivery expected in early 2017.

That capability to handle a range of midsize and large newbuild and ship repair projects keeps the Vigor yard busy – it is booked into the coming year. With the 2015 merger of Vigor and Kvichak, the enterprise now has Kvichak’s Ballard, Wash., aluminum workboat production facility too.

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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