Washington Governor Jay Inslee officially kicked off the construction of M/V Samish, the state’s newest 144-car ferry, by making the first weld on the vessel at Vigor Industrial’s Seattle shipyard Friday. Earlier in the week US Fab, the Vigor company building the ferries, hit a major project milestone on the first vessel, the M/V Tokitae, when the company successfully transferred the 1110-ton superstructure onto the hull.
Joined by state transportation officials, community leaders, and senior Vigor executives, the Governor praised the hard work of the state’s maritime industrial and ferry workers before getting down to work. “This maritime industry is embedded in the legacy of Washington” said Inslee, who pledged to fight for that industry and to keep Washington’s much needed new ferries built in Washington. The governor said he chose to weld the initials of his grandson, Brody Robert Inslee, into the keel of M/V Samish because "these boats will last at least 60 years and I like to think of him taking his kids or grandkids on this boat."
“The Washington State Ferry System and the state’s maritime industry are crucial to the vibrancy of our state.” said Vigor CEO Foti, who explained that building ferries in Washington not only results in great boats, but helps the state maintain a highly productive, competitive maritime industry.
Acting as Master of Ceremonies, Foti welcomed speakers including: Chris Morgan, Vice President of US Fab; Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent, who explained that her community would be receiving one of these ferries, and that new vessels are needed to ensure reliable service; David Moseley, Washington State Department of Transportation’s Assistant Secretary, who is directly responsible for running the state’s ferry system; and Washington’s Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond, who chose to spend her last day before retirement celebrating the new ferry.
Chris Morgan thanked state officials and the Vigor workforce, and outlined the economic and social implications that building ferries has for workers: “Industrial jobs are one of the best ways to strengthen our economy and our communities. More than 200 people will work on this ferry here at Vigor. Hundreds more skilled craftspeople will build critical components of the boat at our subcontractors around the region. These jobs allow each of our workers to support families, invest in education, and patronize local businesses which support thousands more jobs across the region.”
As he concluded the event, Foti called people’s attention to the drydock moored outside the assembly hall where the keel laying took place. In the drydock was the first 144-car ferry, the M/V Tokitae, also under construction at Vigor.
An engineering evolution and milestone
U.S. Fab reached a milestone March 5 when workers successfully moved the 270’x80’x45’ superstructure of the M/V Tokitae onto the hull while both structures were in floating drydocks.
The 1110-ton superstructure was fabricated at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Whidbey Island and was barged to Vigor in Seattle on March 2. Too heavy to lift by cranes, U.S. Fab was tasked with devising a way to get the massive superstructure on top of the 362’x83’x24’ hull they recently finished fabricating. In the end, the maritime experts decided to complete the hull transfer on the waters of Puget Sound.
The team put the superstructure, still on the barge, in one of Vigor’s three floating drydocks in Seattle and put the hull in another. After lining the drydocks up end-to-end, the team adjusted the buoyancy of each drydock to align the top of the hull with the bottom of the superstructure. Working with heavy lifting contractor Omega Morgan, the team laid down 600 feet of track to bridge the distance between the hull and the superstructure. Working over 5 hours, and constantly adjusting the weight distributions of each drydock, the team successfully made the transit and placed the superstructure on the hull.
“These vessels pose interesting engineering challenges because we are constructing major portions of the ship in different locations,” said Morgan. Major subcontractors include Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Whidbey Island, Jesse Engineering of Tacoma, Greer Tanks of Lakewood, ELTEC and Performance Contracting in Seattle.
Both boats are on currently on schedule and on budget. The M/V Tokitae is scheduled to be delivered in early 2014. The M/V Samish is scheduled to be delivered in early 2015.