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Vigor sees massive dry dock as healthy economic symbol

Portland company's $40 million project lands at Swan Island


Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - The Vigorous, the worlds largest floating dry dock, is carried under the St. Johns Bridge Monday morning on the way to Vigor Industrials shipyard at Swan Island.Vigor Industrial is betting big that the ship repair business is rebounding.

Really big.

The Portland company has bought what it says is the largest floating dry dock in the world and had it towed to its Swan Island facilities. It arrived there Monday morning.

The Chinese-made dry dock, dubbed The Vigorous by the company, will be assembled at Swan island this fall. It will then be used to repair some of the biggest vessels in the world, including cruise ships. The dry dock cost $40 million and was towed across the ocean by the Dutch MV Blue Marlin, one of the world’s largest heavy-lift ships. It will be as long as three Statues of Liberties when put together.

“The Vigorous is a symbol of the resurgence of the maritime industry in Portland and the wider Pacific Northwest,” says Vigor Chief Executive Officer Frank 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.”

The new dry dock will replace a nearly identical one that the company sold in 2001 to meet obligations. Since then, Vigor has grown from the single shipyard to nine locations from Portland to Seward, Alaska. The workforce at Swan Island has expanded from fewer than 80 workers in the late 1990s to more than 600 today, and the company’s overall workforce now includes more than 2,000 people.

Two cargo ships — the Algol and Capella — are already booked for repairs. Serving them will create 130 jobs after the new dry dock is assembled, a process expected to take six months.

Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - The Blue Marlin semi-submersible heavy lift ship carried the dry dock into Portland.