Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

West Coast Yards Delivering Diverse Projects


March 1, 2020

The 87-foot US Coast Guard patrol boat Hawksbill is at Al Larson Boat Shop in San Pedro under a 63-day contract involving the overhaul of the vessel with 34 different line items. Photo courtesy of Al Larson Boat Shop.

The strength of west coast shipyards is their ability to evolve, diversify and deliver state-of-the-art vessels.

Whether they are constructing and/or repairing military vessels, containerships or ferries, shipyards along the west coast play a significant role in keeping the maritime industry moving by building and maintaining vessels that incorporate engines that curb emissions and technology that enhances safety and comfort for crew and passengers.

Al Larson Boat Shop

The Shipyard has been extremely busy with big repair jobs and will be for at least the next six months, said Jack Wall, president of Al Larson Boat Shop, Inc., the 117-year company based in San Pedro Bay.

The full-service Shipyard – which has four marine railways, a floating drydock and dockside work areas – is working on one of the Navy's open lighters, the 110-foot YC 1662 homeported in San Diego, and a Coast Guard Contract for repairs on the USCGC Hawksbill, an 87-foot patrol boat that can perform search and rescue, law enforcement, fisheries patrols, drug interdiction and other duties.

"The USCG cutter Hawksbill is our main focus at the moment," Wall said, adding that the 63-day contract involves overhaul of the vessel with 34 different line items of jobs including sandblast and paint, mast preservation and modification and propulsion shaft seal replacement.

The company is also working on a pair of ferries from Catalina Express (including an engine replacement on one of the ferries), steel repairs on Foss's barge San Pedro and NRC Quest, a tug from Maxum Petroleum, fendering repairs to a Foss tug and aluminum repairs on one of Hornblower Cruises and Events' vessels, the ICON, a 120-foot yacht that can accommodate up to 150 guests.

For ICON, Al Larson will work on extensive aluminum welding repairs, blackwater tank, exhaust tunnels, side shell, new mufflers and new paint job, Wall said.

The Shipyard is also working on the Elsa, a small tug used for hauling barges in the Harbor. Work includes basic overhaul paint job, sea valves and the replacement of steel on deck and hatches. From July to September, the company will also be involved in a three-month drydocking of Long Beach Fireboat 20, Wall said.

Diversified Marine Inc.

The Portland, Oregon,-based company, which has been serving the community since 1985, has been steadily growing its new build business since 2000, said Kurt Redd, president of Diversified Marine.

The company recently delivered a new 6,000-hp tractor tug Noydena in December, the first of two 79-foot by 40-foot Tier 4 boats for Brusco. The second boat, not yet named, is expected to be delivered in the fourth quarter of this year.

DMI is also preparing to deliver a boat, the 128-by-35-foot Geronimo, to Sause Bros. at the end of March. The company also built sister tug Apache, which was delivered last summer and is operating in the Bay Area.

DMI is not only seeing more orders to build new boats, it sees an opportunity to return to doing more repair work, said Redd, adding that the company has acquired another drydock and about 800 linear feet of adjacent waterfront property.

"We used to do more repair work and we just haven't lately because we've been focusing our energies on new building, but with Subchapter M and all that's related to it, we felt it was a good time to get back into it," Redd said.

General Dynamics NASSCO

General Dynamics NASSCO is currently working on the first of six vessels for the US Navy oiler fleet, the USNS John Lewis, at its Shipyard in San Diego.

The vessels, the first of which is expected to be finished in November, are designed to move fuel to naval carrier strike group ships at sea. They will be able to carry 157,000 barrels of oil, have "significant dry cargo capacity, aviation capability and a speed of 20 knots," according to the company.

"These oilers are critical to the Navy's ability to operate around the world," said the yard's Kevin Graney in 2018 when construction began. "We are honored to build the lead ship of this class and have worked with our Navy and industry partners to ensure the design, planning, material and facility are ready to begin construction."

Also in the works at NASSCO's San Diego Shipyard is the second of two-vessel Kanaloa Class vessels commissioned by Honolulu-based shipping firm Matson.

This second vessel, which is anticipated for delivery in the third quarter of this year, will follow the 870-foot-long, 3,500-TEU combination containership/roll-on, roll-off vessel Lurline, which NASSCO delivered to Matson in December. Lurline features Tier III emission compliant liquefied natural gas-capable main and auxiliary engines, according to the company.

The new vessels will allow Matson to move containers, vehicles and other rolling inventory.

JT Marine, Inc

The Vancouver, Washington-based family company has been working to grow its capabilities and facility in 2019, said Cristy Toristoja of JT Marine Inc.

"JTM is going to continue to benefit from our recent upgraded storm water system and recently upgraded build-way for more efficient handling of material in the yard," she said.

The company is also exploring several ways to diversify its business, Toristoja added.

"We have repair and maintenance either topside or in one of our drydocks," she said. "Also included in our Shipyard services is vessel deconstruction."

JT Marine worked on a shrimp and crab fishing vessel, the F/V Spirit of America, adding 13 feet to the midsection of the deck to increase deck and cargo capacity.

Recent new construction projects include a hopper barge for HME Construction Inc. of Vancouver, Washington. The 192-foot by 50-foot by 17-foot ABS Load Line Split Hull Hopper Barge – Dredging Support Barge, was delivered in December and will operate in the Columbia, Snake, Willamette and west coast rivers, bays and ports.

Another recently completed project is the Port of Portland's 50-foot by 23-foot by 4-foot anchor scow barge, which was delivered in early February. It is the first of three commissioned by the port. The other two barges are anticipated for delivery in March and April and will be 50-foot by 20-foot by 4-foot Anchor Scow Barges – Dredging Pipe Support Barges.

JT Marine also provides marine support services with its own fleet of tugs and barges, including vessel salvage, miscellaneous river supports services as well as heavy civil construction.

The company recently undertook a salvage operation of the recreational tug Diane, which was impeding navigation below the Bonneville Dam. JTM assisted in the recovery of the tug Diane from the Columbia along with Smit Salvage, Toristoja said.

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders

The Freeland, Washington-based facility has been hard at work.

In April, the company delivered Baydelta Maritime's first hybrid tug, the Delta Teresa. The 100-foot by 40-foot tug has a pair of Caterpillar C3516 C Tier 3 diesel engines, each rated at 1,995 kW at 1,600 rpm and a pair of 424-kw electric motors and can run on different power modes, the company said. The tug also features seven berths and on-board equipment such as a Rapp Marine electric hawser winch, and a single drum tow winch.

The ship builder also delivered the Island Regent, the second of two ATB tugs for Canadian firm Island Tug and Barge in June.

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB) is currently working on a Foss Maritime order for four 100-foot tractor tugs, which are expected to be delivered this winter. The Z-drive tugs, which Foss intends to operate on the US west coast, allow the company to nimbly provide a number of services, including ship assist, escort capabilities and towing. They also feature a pair of MTU series 4000 main engines, Rolls-Royce US255 azimuth thrusters and Markey winches, according to NBBB.

Also under construction at NBBB are two high-speed passenger-only ferries for Kitsap Transit.

Under the current schedule, the first 140-foot by 37-foot by 12-foot aluminum high-speed catamaran is expected to be delivered in April, and the second one in the summer, said Kitsap Transit spokesman Sanjay Bhatt.

The vessels can each carry 250 people and 26 bicycles and "will be among the first vessels to feature a selective catalytic reduction exhaust aftertreatment system powered by two MTU Tier IV 16V400M65L main engines each putting out 3,435-hp at 1,800rpm, through ZF 9050 gears, turning Kamewa S71-4 waterjets, reaching 35 knots at full load," according to NBBB.

"These high-speed, 250-passenger ferries will enable Kitsap Transit to offer our customers reliable, comfortable transportation between the Kitsap Peninsula and downtown Seattle," said Bhatt.

Once the first ferry is delivered, Kitsap plans to run it on the Kingston/Seattle route to help familiarize the crew with its operation, Bhatt said. When the second ferry arrives, the first will be put into service on its new Southworth/Seattle route and the second will become the primary vessel operating the Kingston/Seattle route, which is currently served by M/V Finest.

Kitsap also leases the M/V Melissa Ann as a backup vessel.


Vigor Industrial saw significant change in 2019 when the Portland-based ship builder and repair company announced in July that it was acquired by the Carlyle Group and private equity firm Stellex Capital Management and merging with Norfolk-based ship repair and maintenance services company MHI Holdings LLC.

The merger "will create a bicoastal leader in critical ship repair services and commercial and defense-related fabrication services," according to the announcement.

"Through this transaction, Vigor gains responsible, forward-thinking investors who will seek to build on our current platform while maintaining a values-driven culture," said Vigor President and CEO Frank Foti. "In addition, we are excited to join forces with a company of MHI's caliber which has a history of delivering strong results and shares our mission to serve the people who protect our country every day. This evolution takes us where we want to go, growing sustainable jobs into the future."

While Vigor, which has 2,300 employees and eight drydocks throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, is well known for building ferries, the company sees growth potential in the defense sector.

In September, Vigor secured a more than $254 million contract to repair, maintain and modernize two navy vessels, USS Chosin and USS Cape St. George. The work is taking place at the company's Harbor Island facility in Seattle and is expected to be done by November 2021, according to Vigor.

The company recently promoted Navy veteran and former general manager Mike Pearson to vice president of Navy and Puget Sound repair as part of that strategy.

"Mike has delivered outstanding results in building the strong teams and processes that continue to improve our competitive position in complex Navy programs," said Adam Beck, Vigor executive vice president of ship repair. "His efforts, together with Vigor's great team of skilled craftspeople, are proving the Pacific Northwest has a strong role to play in maintaining the fleet readiness of today's Navy."

Although busy with newbuilds including 79-foot and 128-foot tugboats, Portland's Diversified Marine Industries has acquired another drydock and adjacent waterfront property for ship repair work. Photo by Kurt Redd courtesy of Diversified Marine Industries.

Vigor in 2019 also moved to streamline its production when it agreed to use the former Christensen Yachts site in Vancouver, Washington, to construct the US Army's new landing craft, Maneuver Support Vessel (Light), a move that brings some 400 jobs to the area to work on Vigor's largest contract of close to $1 billion over 10 years.

The facility, which brings together the company's whole aluminum fabrication team, will also work on other vessels, including the Combatant Craft Medium (CCM) for the US Navy and allies, the Response Boat-Medium (RB-M) for the US Coast Guard and export market, Vigor's Fast Interceptor, aluminum fast ferries and commercial workboats, according to the company.

Vigor also secured some non-military contracts in 2019, including an extension to construct up to five 144-car Olympic class, hybrid-electric ferries for Washington State Ferries and expects to start building later this year. The first ferry is expected to be delivered in late 2022.

The company also netted a contract from the Port of Los Angeles to construct two 56-foot pilot boats, which are expected to be finished later this year, according to Vigor.


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