Alaska Class Ferries to Be Built in Ketchikan
Announced by Governor Sean Parnell Saturday, September 20, the State of Alaska and Vigor Industrial have reached a final agreement to construct two Alaska Class Ferries at Vigor Alaska in Ketchikan. The vessels will be the first Alaska Marine Highway System ferries to be built in Alaska.
“Here we are today to launch this shipyard to a new level, a new level of good jobs, a new level of growth for Ketchikan businesses that are going to supply the shipyard and its workers,” Governor Parnell announced to cheers from of hundreds of Ketchikan residents at a community event and barbecue held by Vigor Alaska at the Ketchikan Shipyard. “Today we effectively put Ketchikan and this shipyard on the map as a major maritime industry competitor.”
Employing the Construction Manager General Contractor (CMGC) process, the State worked with Vigor Industrial to negotiate a guaranteed maximum price to construct both vessels, which is scheduled to begin in October this year and wrap up in 2018. The construction contract and costs to build both ferries in Ketchikan will be at the $120 million budgeted amount. The State was able to incorporate public input into the final design of the ferries while keeping the project within budget.
The design and estimating process was a true collaboration between Vigor Alaska, Alaska Department of Transportation and, Alaska Marine Highway System and Elliot Bay Design Group.
The ferries will be 280 feet long, seat up to 300 passengers and carry 53 standard vehicles. Each ferry will feature bow and stern doors for quicker loading and unloading, fully enclosed car decks, and controllable pitch propellers to maximize maneuverability and efficiency. A modified hull design will improve traveler comfort during rough weather.
“These vessels will be the largest ships ever built in Alaska,” Governor Parnell said. “Building these ferries in state will be a major boost for Alaska’s economy. This has been our intent during the entire process and will help create hundreds of new year-round jobs at the Ketchikan shipyard, while helping Ketchikan develop a highly capable workforce, not only for the growing marine economy of Southeast Alaska, but with skills that can translate into work across the state.”
“This project represents far more than a contract,” said Adam Beck, President of Vigor Alaska. “It is a dramatic step forward in realizing the shared goal of the people of Alaska, its elected officials and the shipyard to keep taxpayer dollars in the state and support family-wage jobs. The Vigor Alaska team represents the best shipbuilders in the state with the expertise to build complex vessels and the dedication to do it to the highest quality standards.”
According to information provided by Vigor Alaska, the two day ferries will cost $101 million to construct, which is a reduction in the original price. Because of the importance of keeping Alaskan dollars in the state, Vigor Alaska said they made significant cuts to the initial estimates for the project and, in fact, delivered a price that was below the independent government price estimate available in the lower 48 states.
The Ketchikan yard features a 130,000 square foot ship production facility designed from the ground up to build ships upwards of 500 feet in length. It includes an adjacent five story production center to minimize material flow and maximize efficiency.
Vigor CEO Frank Foti captured today’s excitement in his remarks: “It’s fitting and downright awesome that the Vigor Alaska’s workers will be stamping ‘MADE IN ALASKA’ on new ferry construction.”
Strengthening Alaska’s maritime sector has been a significant focus for the state. In the last decade, investments through AIDEA have transformed the Ketchikan shipyard into a state-of-the-art, world-class shipbuilding facility.
“I’ve lived in Ketchikan all my life,” said shipyard worker Norm Skan. “It’s such an honor to be building the first ever ferry built in the state for AMHS. We’re going to knock it out of the park.”