Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

No Idle Yards


Late last year, Ketchikan's Vigor Alaska hosted the keel laying ceremony for the first ever Alaska ferries to be built in the state of Alaska. Photo Courtesy of Hall Anderson and Vigor Alaska.

West Coast yards are busy building tugs, barges, ferries and small workboats for the rigors of operating in the Pacific Ocean. One notable exception to the west coast surge is Conrad Orange Shipyard, Inc., a division of Conrad Shipyard, in Orange, Texas, which has won a contract to build the first of a series of dedicated LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) bunker barges for use in the Pacific Northwest.

Earlier this year, Conrad signed a Technical Assistance and License Agreement (TALA) with GTT North America, an innovator in the design of membrane containment systems for the maritime transportation and storage of LNG, for the design and construction of LNG barges and LNG-fueled vessel bunker tanks using GTT's membrane containment systems.

The first barge, ordered by WesPac Midstream and its affiliate, Clean Marine Energy, will be delivered in the first half of 2016 and will be built with the innovative Mark III Flex cargo containment technology, which allows an optimized boil-off rate of cargo LNG and efficiently utilizes available cargo hold space.

The barge will also feature an innovative bunker mast design, REACH4 (Refueling Equipment Arm, Methane [CH4]) developed by GTT, to ensure a simple and safe transfer of LNG fuel to the client vessel.

The barge will initially serve Totem Ocean Trailer Express's (Totem Ocean) operations in Tacoma, Washington before being relocated to the company's SeaStar operations in Jacksonville, Florida.

A different, but still cutting-edge technology is being used by Glosten, a Seattle-based naval architecture consultancy, which has adopted the use of a Nupas-Cadmatic, a CAD/CAM engineering software system for the marine and offshore industry. Glosten will use the software to streamline the design and development of a new, two-vessel Alaska Class Ferry project to be built by Vigor Alaska.

The new day ferries, to be built at Vigor's Ketchikan, Alaska Shipyard for Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS), will serve customers along the Lynn Canal route between Juneau, Haines and Skagway. The two ferries will cost a combined $101 million to build, which is less than the state government's original price estimate.

The Ketchikan yard features a 130,000 square foot ship production facility capable of building ships of up to 500 feet in length, and includes an adjacent five story production center to minimize material flow and maximize efficiency.

Construction of both 280-foot roll-on/roll-off vessels began late last year and will be completed in late 2018. The new boats will have a capacity of 450 passengers, 48 to 60 vehicles and a speed of 18 knots.

Vigor's latest yard in Alaska is Vigor Alaska Seward LLC., formerly Seward Ship's Drydock. "Our Seward location is new in the vigor family of yards," says Adam Beck, Vigor's Vice President of Ship Repair for Washington and Alaska. "There has been a wholesale changeout of management and our approach to work, and we're ready to serve the Alaska fishing fleet."

Beck says the yard is ready for any job, from installing a new radio to sponsoning a boat. The yard boasts a 5,000-ton Syncrolift which will lift ships up to 350 feet in length, and a multi-berth rail system that allows the yard to have four or more different ships out of the water at the same time. Vigor Alaska Seward also has access to the city's 250-ton Travelift, which will soon be upgraded to 275 tons.

Beck says materials and labor are available locally for most projects, and the company's yards up and down the west coast can supply anything needed to service any vessel.

"One of the great things about being part of the Vigor chain is the immediate access to materials, labor or subcontractors," Beck says, "either locally or quickly from one of our other facilities."

Washington State yards remain busy with workboat contracts of all types, including tugs, barges and ferries, as well as pilot boats and fireboats.

In Freeland, Washington, Nichols Bros. Boatbuilders recently christened and launched the Oscar B, a new ferry for Wahkiakum County.

The new, 115-foot by 47-foot, 23-car ferry will take passengers across the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon. The boat was delivered late last month, and replaced the smaller ferry Wahkiakum, built in 1961 in Hood River, Oregon by George Mark Nichols, who later founded Nichols Bros.

The Freeland-based Shipyard is also building a matched pair of 10,000-hp ATB tugs for Houston, Texas-based Kirby Offshore. The 136-foot boats will be mated to two new 578-foot by 78-foot, 185,000 barrel tank barges under construction at Gunderson Marine in Portland, Oregon.

Nichols Bros. was also recently selected to build a Jones-Act freight and passenger vessel for American Samoa. The new landing craft-style boat, to be 140 feet long by 38 feet wide, will accommodate 149 passengers and a crew of eight.

Seattle's Kvichak Marine Industries has been busy turning out high-speed aluminum boats, including a pair of 36-foot Crew / Pilot Boats to west coast Launch, Ltd. which operates year-round as a water transportation company in Prince Rupert, BC, Canada.

The boats are powered by twin Volvo D11 diesel engines rated for 510 bhp and ZF 205 marine gears. The engines are coupled to Hamilton 322 waterjets providing a speed of 35 knots.

The two new boats are a departure for the company, whose pilot boats in the past have been built to a 74-foot design by UK-based Camarc, Ltd. Before delivering the two new west coast Launch boats, Kvichak built a similar pair for another BC operator, Tymac Launch Service.

Seattle's Vigor Fab is busy with the third 144-car ferry, Chimacum, for Washington State Ferries, for delivery in 2017. Also under construction in the Seattle yard is an 88-foot by 25-foot fireboat for the San Francisco Fire Department. Meanwhile, the company's Portland yard is building two 83,000-bbl tank barges for Seattle's Harley Marine Services. The 422-foot by 76-foot tank barges, designed by Seattle's Elliott Bay Design Group to be part of articulated tug and barge configurations, will be among the largest vessels constructed for Harley Marine's fleet.

Also in Portland, Vigor Fab is building a trio of 102-foot tugboats for Tidewater Barge Lines. These new tugs are specially designed to service the Columbia River market. The tug engines are EPA Tier III compliant and provide upgraded environmental standards for cleaner emissions and a lower environmental impact. The tug design also features ergonomic accommodations and comforts proven to minimize fatigue and reduce injuries among the crew.

Portland's Diversified Marine will be delivering the first of two sister ships, the Michelle Sloan, to Harley Marine later this month. The second, Lela Franco, is due for delivery in October of this year. The 80-foot sister tugs, designed by British Columbia's Robert Alan Ltd, will each offer 5,200 HP and provide 65,000 lbs. of bollard pull.

Diversified will also deliver a 6th 78-foot tug, also to a Robert Allan design, to Longview, Washington-based Brusco Tug & Barge toward the end of the year.


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