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Foss Maritime Closes its Seattle Shipyard

rainier
File image courtesy Foss

Published Nov 1, 2021 5:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

West Coast tug operator Foss Maritime has decided to close its shipyard on Seattle's Lake Washington Ship Canal, ending a years-long effort to "improve the viability" of the facility. 

The closure took effect on Saturday, and it will affect 115 employees. Foss is providing a generous severance equivalent to about two months' pay, along with benefits and average overtime wages. 

The closure will not affect any of the company's other operations, and Foss will turn to other Pacific Northwest shipyards to maintain its fleet of tugs and barges. 

“While the closure of the Seattle shipyard is a strategic decision for the future of Foss, it is not a decision we have taken lightly,” said Will Roberts, president of Foss Maritime. “We have employees and families who have been with us for decades; our priority is assisting them in this transition.”

Foss did not provide a detailed explanation for the closure, but sources in the Seattle ship repair industry suggest that a long-running labor dispute over pension benefits played a role. In a statement, the firm said that it had pursued options for selling the business segment, but these "ultimately did not materialize due to insufficient market interest."

"Our goal has always been to preserve the continued operation of the yard which is why we have been willing to sustain losses and remained committed to finding a path forward for so long. Unfortunately, no such path exists, and we have decided to move in a different direction that is more aligned with our strategic priorities for the future of the company," said Roberts in a statement. "Foss does not own the property and any future use will be up to the landlords."

The Seattle yard is the second that Foss has closed in three years, following the shutdown of its Rainier, Oregon facility in 2018. The Foss Rainier Shipyard had been in operation under the firm's management for more than two decades, and it handled nearly two dozen newbuild construction projects for the company over the years.