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News / Business / Clark County Business

Shipbuilder Vigor begins work on U.S. Army landing craft at Vancouver facility

Company expects to employ nearly 200 to support Army landing craft operation

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 11, 2024, 6:03am
Updated: June 14, 2024, 3:13pm

After finishing its prototype U.S. Army landing craft, local shipbuilder Vigor started on the vessel’s initial production as part of a $1 billion contract.

Vigor, which is based in Portland but was acquired by a private equity firm Titan in 2023, opened its Vancouver operation in 2019. Vigor, which employed about 100 people in 2023, is part of a riverfront manufacturing hub in Clark County.

“Beginning this work represents a milestone for the Army, for Vigor and for our employees,” said Jayson Robinson, vice president of fabrication at Vigor.

Vigor, which operates at the former site of Christensen Shipyards, expects to employ nearly 200 people to support its Army landing craft operation over the next five years.

The Vancouver riverfront has a long maritime history. Vancouver was home to one of the Pacific Northwest’s three Kaiser shipyards producing vessels during World War II.

“It is a credit to the great work of our team over the last several years and the partnership with the Army to have the opportunity to take what we have learned from the prototype and build the next generation of landing craft,” Robinson said.

Countywide, manufacturing has been a top industry for the past 20 years. Its payroll cracked $1 billion in Clark County in 2022, according to data from the Washington Employment Security Department.

A number of manufacturing companies, like Thompson Metal Fab, operate near the Vigor site on the Columbia River.

Vigor started work on its Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) prototype for the U.S. Army in 2019 and completed it in February. The prototype, named SSG Elroy F. Wells, underwent sea trials throughout 2023.

The U.S. Army intends the vessel to replace its Vietnam-era Landing Craft Mechanized 8. Vigor won the contract in 2017, then secured the Vancouver production facility.

The craft will support Army mariners and their payloads. Its maneuverability and stability are designed to handle difficult environments, according to Vigor.

At a keel-laying ceremony in 2019, Chad Stocker, then-product director for the Army watercraft system, said the new vessel will improve the Army’s ability to move fuel, supplies, equipment and personnel.

He said at the time that the landing crafts would be able to travel at 21 knots with a full payload of 82 tons while having 5 feet of draft.

“This is critical to the modern Army fleet,” Stocker said.