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.