Thursday, August 28, 2014

Massive Floating Drydock Arrives in Portland

By Mark Edward Nero

North America’s largest floating drydock, the Vigorous, has arrived in Portland, brought by one of the world’s largest ships, the 738-foot M/V Blue Marlin.

The drydock, used to lift vessels as large as cruise ships out of the water, was built in China by Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries. It arrived at the mouth of the Columbia on Aug. 25 and made its way up to Vigor Industrial’s Portland shipyard on the Willamette River.

The drydock is currently in three parts, but when fully assembled, it will be 960-feet long.

Vigor is investing more than $50 million to build and deliver the Vigorous, with the company saying that the drydock will allow Vigor to service vessels such as cruise ships, tankers and cargo ships.

It also frees the company to send another drydock from Portland to Seattle, expanding capacity there.

The new drydock is expected to allow the company to better serve a range of customers with large vessels at a time when total large-drydock capacity on the West Coast has been shrinking. Two large vessels, Maritime Administration cargo ships, are already booked for repairs when the drydock enters service in November.

“The Vigorous is a symbol of the resurgence of the maritime industry in Portland and the wider Pacific Northwest,” Vigor CEO Frank Foti said. “Back in 2000, the shipyard was struggling. Today, we’re growing across the region, and I’m proud and profoundly grateful that we’re in a place to make this kind of investment.”

The Vigorous is about the same size as a drydock Foti was forced to sell in 2001 in order to repay millions of dollars that the company owed lenders. The sale of the shipyard’s largest asset led some to speculate at the time that it signaled the end of shipbuilding in Portland. Since then, however, the company has grown from the single shipyard to nine locations from Portland to Alaska. Vigor says its overall workforce now includes over 2,000 people.