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News / Business / Clark County Business

Vigor cites due diligence in delay of plant launch

Plans for May pushed back to July or August

By Allan Brettman, Columbian Business Editor
Published: June 5, 2019, 6:05am
4 Photos
Ship-builder Vigor is in the process of buying the former Vancouver headquarters and production facility of Christensen Shipyards.
Ship-builder Vigor is in the process of buying the former Vancouver headquarters and production facility of Christensen Shipyards. Nathan Howard/The Columbian files Photo Gallery

Work to transform the former Christensen yachts facility into a Vigor plant producing aluminum marine craft will likely start in late July or early August.

An initial time line announced earlier this year called for that to happen in May.

“There was a hope that we might be able to work out an agreement to begin there sooner,” said Jill Mackie, Vigor’s senior vice president of public affairs.

Vigor’s planning, engineering and permit acquisition is underway, Mackie said.

The move-in delay is primarily the result of due diligence taking place before a sale is closed, she said.

“It’s not uncommon in complicated property transactions for these to take longer than planned,” Mackie said.

On top of that, Christensen still has two yachts under construction in the facility at 4400 S.E. Columbia Way, officials said. It was not clear on Monday what stage of construction the yachts are at and when they might be moved out of the plant.

“One looks like it’s very close to being finished, and there’s one that looks like it’s just a hull with not much more than that,” said Chad Eiken, city of Vancouver director of community economic development, who’s been assisting Vigor in its move.

The Christensen website shows renderings of two 164-foot-long yachts that are under construction. The company is in the process of moving to a production plant in Tellico Lake, Tenn. An email to a Christensen official was not returned.

When Vigor launches production at the former Christensen site, about 100 workers skilled in aluminum boat production will be employed. Of that total, 80 workers from Vigor’s plant in Clackamas, Ore., will transfer along with 20 from the company’s Ballard facility.

About 40 of Vigor’s workers in Ballard declined offers to move to Vancouver, either transferring to jobs at Vigor’s Seattle Harbor Island facility or elsewhere in the area’s marine industry, reflecting “an incredibly strong market for this type of skillset for these people,” Mackie said.

By 2023, up to 400 workers are expected to employed at Vigor’s Vancouver aluminum fabrication facility. The company already has welding and assembly buildings on an 11.5-acre site next to the Columbia River at 3515 S.E. Columbia Way.

Ongoing production of aluminum craft now taking place at Ballard will be moved to Vancouver, including construction for the Navy, Coast Guard and U.S. allies.

And prototype work will begin on the U.S. Army’s new landing craft, called Maneuver Support Vessel (Light). That contract, valued at $979.4 million over 10 years, is the largest in Vigor’s history. It calls for more than 30 of the vessels to be built.

In April, Vigor announced the Port of Los Angeles had awarded Vigor a contract to build two 56-foot pilot boats. The boats will be built in Vancouver. Vigor expects to complete construction of the boats by late summer 2020.

Columbian Business Editor