VIGOR, US Fab Deliver Ferry to WSF

Receive Green Light to Begin Building Another. Shipbuilding to Generate More Than 500 Jobs at Two Dozen State Firms.

One completed, one to begin. Even as VIGOR Industrial this week delivered the final new 64-car ferry to Washington State Ferries, the company’s US Fab shipbuilding division received a green light from the state to begin constructing the system’s next vessel. On Monday, the companies delivered the state’s newest ferry, Kennewick, to WSF, three months ahead of schedule.

Separately, the state today authorized the shipbuilder to begin constructing Washington’s next new ferry, a 144-car vessel designed to provide maximum capacity in the system’s Pacific Northwest waters. Today’s “notice of award” allows US Fab to begin production after it finalizes its contracts and begins to order steel and other materials.  The ferry construction will generate more than 500 jobs around Puget Sound, with more than half of the work and materials expected to come from two dozen regional subcontractors and vendors.

“These are two great steps for the people who ride and rely on Washington State ferries as well as for those of us who build these ships,” said Kevin Quigley, president of VIGOR’s US Fab division.  “Tens of thousands of people will ride the Kennewick and then the new 144-car ferry every month.  And hundreds of Washington workers will have jobs building and outfitting the new boat in our shipyards and with our subcontractors and suppliers throughout the region.”
The just-completed ferry and the just-approved one are both major milestones for Washington’s vessel replacement program.

“We’re elated that our partners at Vigor shipyards delivered the Kennewick three months ahead of schedule – that means our customers will get to enjoy a new vessel even sooner than we’d planned,” said David Moseley, Assistant Secretary of Transportation and WSF director. “And I am thrilled that we are moving forward with the 144-car ferry program. This vessel will allow us to retire the 55-year old ferry Evergreen State and provide more reliable service to our customers.”

The final negotiated price of $115.4 million includes more than $6 million cut from the company’s initial contract submission. VIGOR, US Fab and WSF worked closely together to eliminate non-essential items while maintaining safety, performance and passenger conveniences.  Savings include the use of some new materials and improved methods for building mechanical systems, as well as improved construction scheduling, more efficient training, stricter quality assurance and new contract management approaches that VIGOR and its team learned from building the 64-car ferries. 

The new ferry will cost $400,000 less per car-slot than the initial 64-car Kwa-di Tabil class vessel. Construction will generate an estimated 200 family-wage jobs at VIGOR’s large Harbor Island facility, which the company acquired when it purchased Todd Pacific Shipyards in February.  The work also will provide an additional 350 jobs at subcontractors, vendors and other shipyards in the region and will support thousands of additional indirect jobs.

“Industrial jobs really matter in this state,” said Frank Foti, VIGOR president and chief executive officer. “With this ferry, we’re expanding the proud, hundred-year legacy of shipbuilding at Harbor Island.  We’re continuing the successful model of teaming with other shipyards around the state, as we did with Kennewick and its two sister ships.  And we’ll be building the newest ferry that passengers, Washington State Ferries, the Legislature and the Governor all determined is very much needed.”

Today’s notice of award is the next step in a contract initially adopted by the state in December 2007 with funding overwhelmingly approved by the legislature and governor this spring. “We’re ready to get underway,” Quigley said. “We believe our subcontractors share our commitment to building the vessel the Legislature and WSF want at the lowest possible cost, delivering the best value possible to the state and the ferry passengers.” The 144-car ferry will be the ninth built at Harbor Island when it joins Kennewick and 22 other vessels in the WSF fleet. The system is the largest ferry operation in the United States and the fourth largest in the world. The shipbuilders expect to start “cutting steel” in early 2012; final construction will last up to 27 months. 

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