When Harley Franco built his company’s new world headquarters on Seattle’s Harbor Island, he designed it to be a gathering space for company and industry events. Inside the front door, a large atrium with a salt-water pool and a grand piano provide an elegant entry. An adjacent meeting room opens to the atrium. Floor to ceiling windows look north at downtown Seattle and a waterway flanked by Port of Seattle container cranes. A large outside plaza is equipped with a gas fire pit and outdoor furniture. Company vessels can tie up right next to the building. It’s a beautiful and functional facility.

Michelle SloanLast Friday, about 100 people gathered there to celebrate the arrival of Harley Marine’s newest harbor tug and to commemorate the woman it’s named for, Michelle Sloan. The Michelle Sloan is an 80'x36' Z-drive ship-assist tug designed by Robert Allan Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia, and built by Diversified Marine Industries, Portland, Ore.

Michelle Sloan, the woman, was a close friend of Harley Franco and his wife, Lela. After battling breast cancer for over a decade, Michelle passed away last November. The new tug was named in her honor. The Michelle’s sister vessel, which is currently under construction in Portland, will be named the Lela Franco. Together, the names “shine a light on powerful women in the marine industry and the impact they have in our community,” said Franco.

The new tug will soon join Harley Marine’s fleet of shipdocking tugs in Southern California. It’s a powerful and impressive vessel. Long may she run. 

With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. Bruce spent 16 years as WorkBoat's technical editor before retiring in May 2015. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!).