Foss Maritime, Seattle, closed its Rainier, Ore., shipyard July 24, laying off 10 workers and cancelling an agreement to build new Damen Shipyards Group-designed tugboats there.

Foss continues to provide shipyard services at its Seattle base, and the decision to close the Rainier facility was a “business decision based on multiple economic factors,” according to Foss spokesman Loren Skaggs.

The Foss Rainier Shipyard was acquired by Foss with its purchase of Brix Maritime almost 25 years ago, and was converted to handle new vessel construction 15 years ago.

Since then 23 vessels were built there, including the Dolphin-class tugboats that dominate the Foss harbor services fleet and the big offshore Arctic-class boats. The last vessel to be launched at Rainier was the 121'x31'x20', 7,268-hp Nicole Foss in June 2017.

Foss Rainier was to be the site for the construction of the first four of at least 10 azimuth stern drive (ASD) tugs, under a deal that Foss and Damen announced in late 2017.

The companies planned to produce a new version of the Damen ASD 2813 design, with modifications to meet the needs of the U.S. ship assist and escort market.

The agreement specifically called for the boats to be built at Rainier, and thus the agreement “is out of date and has therefore been cancelled,” according to Skaggs. However, “Foss and Damen are still in discussions about a number of potential projects. Foss is still committed to building new ASD 90 tugs for fleet replenishment.”

While primarily looking toward its own needs, Foss entered talks with Damen with an eye to supplying new vessels for other U.S. tug operators too. Netherlands-based Damen has been building such partnerships since opening its North American office in Houston in August 2016.

Contributing 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 an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 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.