For more than 30 years, the Christensen yacht company made its home inside a 180,000-square-foot warehouse in Vancouver’s Columbia Business Park, tucked between Highway 14 and the Columbia River. Workers in the facility’s 12 assembly bays manufactured some of the most luxurious vessels money can buy, and the company made a name for itself as one of Vancouver’s homegrown success stories.
But later this year, Christensen yachts — officially called Christensen Shipyards, LLC — will move to Tellico Lake, Tenn., and the Vancouver facility will become a new home for Vigor Industrial, which plans to manufacture a new type of landing craft for the U.S. Army called the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light).
The deal was announced Feb. 1 and caps a series of tumultuous years for the Vancouver yacht builder, which at its peak employed nearly 500. The move to Tennessee will leave the company well-positioned to adapt to the latest trends in the yacht industry, according to President Jim Gilbert.
The current structure limits the size of the company’s yachts to 50-meter hulls, he said, but the yacht market has shifted in the past three decades, and 50-meter hulls are now considered to be medium-sized.
The Tennessee facility can accommodate hulls up to almost 70 meters, according to the company’s website, and the Vancouver facility’s bays are an ideal size for Vigor to build the 100-foot MSV(L) landers. Vigor said it plans to start with 130 workers and ramp up to 400 after a few years.