Nation’s Largest Floating Drydock Arrives In Portland – Photos

The MV Blue Marlin, carrying the Vigorous, arrived off Astoria, Oregon on Sunday before making its way up the Willamette River to Portland. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
The MV Blue Marlin, carrying the Vigorous, arrived off Astoria, Oregon on Sunday before making its way up the Columbia River and then the Willamette River to Portland. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The soon-to-be largest floating drydock in the United States made its way up the Willamette River and into Portland on Monday aboard the Blue Marlin.

The drydock, known as the Vigorous, is destined for Vigor Industrial’s Portland shipyard. Fully assemble, the drydock will measure a whopping 960-feet – more than three times the height of the Statue of Liberty – and will have 80,000-tons of capacity, making it the largest in the nation. The dock was designed to meet the requirements of the US Navy’s MIL-STD 1625D and the American Bureau of Shipping.

Vigor is investing more than $50 million to build and deliver the Vigorous, which will be used to service vessels such as cruise ships, tankers and cargo ships. Two large vessels, as a matter of fact,  both Maritime Administration cargo ships, are already booked for repairs when the drydock enters service in November.

The drydock was designed by the U.S. company Heger Dry Dock and constructed by Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries in Jiangsu Province, China. It is being delivered to Portland in three pieces aboard the Blue Marlin, a semi-submersible heavy lift ship owned by Dockwise Ltd.

Vigor CEO Frank Foti says the new drydock will 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.

“The Vigorous is a symbol of the resurgence of the maritime industry in Portland and the wider Pacific Northwest,” said Foti. “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.”

Vigor notes that the Vigorous is about the same size as the drydock Foti, which Vigor sold in 2001 in order to repay millions of dollars of debt. The sale led some to speculate it was the end of shipbuilding in Portland, but since then the company has grown from the single shipyard to nine locations from Portland to Seward, Alaska. The workforce in the Portland shipyard alone has expanded from fewer than 80 workers in the 1990s to more than 600 today, Vigor says, and overall workforce now includes more than 2,000 people.

”The drydock is attracting new business and new jobs to the region,” said Foti. “Without the Vigorous, these large ship repair projects and the family-wage shipyard jobs they create would just go somewhere else.”

The heavy lift vessel Blue Marlin passes under the Astoria-Megler Bridge on its transit to deliver a dry dock to Portland, Ore., Aug. 24, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard Photos
The heavy lift vessel Blue Marlin passes under the Astoria-Megler Bridge on its transit to deliver a dry dock to Portland, Ore., Aug. 24, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The Blue Marlin arrived at the mouth of the Columbia and was guided over the Columbia River Bar by the Columbia River Bar Pilots, before being transfered the Columbia River Pilots for the trip up river to Portland.

The photos below are courtesy of Seth Tane, who snapped the photos as the Blue Marlin passing below the St. Johns bridge and then the BNSF drawspan bridge on Monday.

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Photos (c) Seth Tane/SethTane.com