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Vigor to take over former Christensen Yachts site for aluminum fabrication

Feb 1, 2019 02:59 PM

The shipyard will build the U.S. Army’s new landing craft at the facility in Vancouver, Wash.

Courtesy Vigor

The following is text of a news release from Vigor:

(PORTLAND, Ore.) — Vigor has entered an agreement to take over the former home of Christensen Yachts in Vancouver, Wash., following a search for the best location to build the U.S. Army’s new landing craft, the maneuver support vessel (light) or MSV(L). The MSV(L) contract represents the largest award in Vigor’s history with a total value of nearly $1 billion over 10 years and hundreds of family-wage jobs.

Vigor expects to eventually employ approximately 400 workers at the site and will be investing millions in capital upgrades and equipment. In addition to the Army landing craft production, other programs to be constructed at the site will include ongoing production of the combatant craft medium (CCM) for the U.S. Navy as well as for U.S. allies, the response boat-medium (RB-M) for the U.S. Coast Guard and export market, Vigor’s fast interceptor, aluminum fast ferries and commercial workboats. Vigor’s aluminum marine work is currently performed primarily in Seattle (Ballard), Wash., and Clackamas, Ore. Aluminum marine work in these locations will phase out as work is moved to the Vancouver site over the coming year.
 
Vigor looked in both Oregon and Washington state at building and buying options for this facility. Local, state and federal leaders in both states showed support throughout the process, demonstrating their commitment to the economic benefits and jobs created by strong manufacturing and maritime sectors in the Pacific Northwest.

“Vigor’s decision to keep and grow jobs in Washington state is a testament to the great quality of life and work force we have available here,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Our team worked intently with Vigor to find a competitive solution to keep these jobs in Washington and I’m glad to see the continued success of one of our great corporate citizens contributing to our economy by creating living wage jobs in Vancouver.”

The Vancouver site was selected for a number of factors. The opportunity to bring its entire aluminum fabrication team together in one location was a primary driver coupled with the livability of the community, its proximity to existing Vigor facilities, and the excellent suitability of the Christensen facility for Vigor’s production needs.

“The synergies we will achieve by bringing these amazing builders together in one location strengthens our competitive advantage and builds upon our long-term goals as an outstanding industrial company,” said Frank Foti, Vigor president and CEO. “While we’ve had operations in Vancouver since 1980, this move represents a substantial increase in the number of Vigor employees who will be living and working here. Our Vigor team looks forward to getting to know the Vancouver community better and being a force for good through our remarkable people and the economic activity associated with our work.” 

The approximate timeline is to begin production at the facility in May with existing work followed by the beginning of construction of the MSV(L) prototype in the summer. Once the MSV(L) prototype is completed and testing and refinements have occurred, the schedule calls for four vessels in the low rate production phase, followed by 32 vessels once full rate production is underway. 

The availability of high quality skills training and job training partnerships in both Vancouver and Portland will play an important role in attracting the talent needed. Vigor looks forward to combining its existing Ballard-based and Clackamas-based marine work forces while working with local skills-based programs, its various labor partners, and the community to hire and train the skilled workers needed for this facility.

The opportunity to build upon the proud maritime tradition embodied by the facility’s founder, the late Dave Christensen, is important to Foti as well. "We are honored to carry forward the vision begun by Dave,” Foti said. “There’s a sign in the entry that reads, ‘Through these doors walk the finest boat builders in the world.’ The craftspeople of Vigor intend to honor that vision as we walk through those same doors every day."

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