Vigor announces “build in Washington” team for ferry

Written by Nick Blenkey

vigorVigor Industrial today released details of the “build in Washington team” that will build a 144 car ferry for the State of Washington under an agreement signed November 1 by Washington State Ferries with Vigor Industrial and its US Fab shipbuilding division.

Prime contractor US Fab today announced final subcontracting agreements with companies, including Nichols Brothers Boat Builders of Whidbey Island, Jesse Engineering of Tacoma, Vigor Marine of Everett and Eltech Electric of Seattle.

Notably absent from the line up: J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding of Tacoma, Wash. It was originally to participate in the project, but apparently could not get down to lower price levels demanded by Vigor after its original proposal to the state was rejected in July.


The new ferry is scheduled to take about 27 months to complete. Cost of construction is $115 million and the total cost of the vessel is $147 million, which includes owner-furnished equipment, construction management and contingencies.

US Fab, the new-build subsidiary of Vigor Industrial, will construct the ferry’s hull at the historic Harbor Island shipyard in Seattle. Nichols Brothers will build the structure from the car-deck level up at its facility in Freeland, Wash. The drive-on, drive-off ends of the vessel will be constructed by Jesse Engineering just off Commencement Bay in Tacoma. The sections will ultimately be joined together in Seattle.

Eltech will handle electrical installation, working at multiple facilities from its home base near Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal. Final outfitting, including flooring, insulation, galleys, restrooms and heating and air conditioning will be completed in Everett by Vigor Marine at what was formerly known as Everett Shipyard.

The multi-company, multi-town approach supports more than 500 direct jobs around Puget Sound, including many new hires, and will support an estimated 2,000 additional indirect jobs in the state.

“These agreements ensure the 144-car, 1,500-passenger ferry will be built by workers in various communities in our state as the Washington Legislature directed,” said Kevin Quigley, president of US Fab. “When passengers drive onto this ferry, they’ll enter on steel fabricated by workers in Tacoma, park atop a hull built in Seattle, ride in the passenger decks constructed on Whidbey Island and rely on systems installed in Everett and around Puget Sound.”

In all, construction of the 1,500-passenger ferry will be performed by more than two dozen other Puget Sound subcontractors. More than half the work is expected to be performed outside the Seattle facility formerly operated by Todd Pacific Shipyards.

Vigor says that subcontractors announced today each agreed to meet stringent cost-saving requirements to keep the package within the total cost agreed to by Washington State Ferries (WSF). The structure parallels the multi-city approach used to build three 64-car ferries for the state, the last of which, Kennewick, was delivered to WSF in October, three months ahead of schedule.

“This project means a great deal to the people here, where ferries and boat building are an essential part of our lives,” said John Collins, CEO of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders. “We’re really pleased and ready to once again put our people to work building these boats for the folks who live, work and visit Whidbey and the other islands.”

Nichols Brothers, Jesse Engineering, Eltech and other team members embraced the spirit of cost-containment negotiations that last month allowed US Fab and the state to lock in a fixed price for the ferry.

“We know price and performance are both important to building this ferry on-budget and on-time,” said Gust Erickson, sales manager for Jesse Engineering. “We’re proud that our Tacoma workforce will bring both to this project.”

“Being part of this contract is great news for our workers,” said Jay Sinclair, president and co-owner of Eltech Electric. “This really brings home the build-in-Washington plan for growing and improving our wonderful ferry system.”

Construction will begin in February, with delivery expected in mid-2014.

December 14, 2011

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