Marine fans—not to mention fans of oversized engineering—received a treat recently in Portland, Ore., when Vigor Industrial floated the nation’s largest drydock down the Willamette River on its way to installation at the company’s Portland location.
The gargantuan drydock, at 960 ft long, longer than three Statue of Liberties placed end to end, came down the river in three pieces, stacked aboard a 738-ft heavy lift ship. Now at the Portland site, crews must construct the drydock, getting it primed for a November opening to handle a wide range of vessels.
Even as drydock capacity on the West Coast has been shrinking, Vigor CEO Frank Foti says, this new $50 million investment can help the company service vessels as large as cruise ships, tankers and cargo ships. It also frees Vigor to send another drydock from Portland to Seattle to expand capacity there.
A floating drydock is a U-shaped marine vessel designed to repair or build ships. Operators let water into the drydock through valves and submerge it, Vigor says, allowing other vessels to drive in and out of the drydock. When the water is pumped out of the drydock rises, lifting the docked vessel out of the water, allowing crews to service and repair parts of the vessel usually under the waterline.
The new Vigor purchase was constructed by Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries in Jiangsu Province, China, and came to North America via the Dutch vessel, the MV Blue Marlin.
Vigor has ships on the docket for repair once the drydock comes online Nov. 1.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.