SEWARD, Alaska – Jim Pruitt, the owner of Seward Ship’s Drydock at Seward Marine Industrial Center, (SMIC), has signed a “letter of intent” to sell the assets of the shipyard company to Vigor Industrial. Vigor, a Seattle-based firm with shipyards in Washington, Oregon and Alaska works with the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard on large ships that ply the Pacific Northwest, the Polar Regions, and worldwide, and is also working with the Coast Guard to return American heavy icebreakers to the Arctic and Antarctic, and to build faster, more efficient patrol boats.
The two companies are currently negotiating the terms of the potential sale, and expect it be finalized after completing environmental, financial and business due diligence and after Seward Ship’s Drydock, Vigor and the City of Seward reach a final agreement on certain details, according to a press release by Vigor Industrial.
Seward Ship’s Drydock has operated the shipyard and drydock facility on land it leases from the City of Seward. Its assets have grown considerably over time, and in 2012, the city extended its ground lease with Seward Ships to 2040 to make it more attractive to potential investors.
Under the terms of the tentative deal, the Seward shipyard would join Vigor as a subsidiary of the company’s Vigor Alaska subsidiary.
“In order to continue to grow and expand the business, additional capital was required, and this, together with a desire to further diversify my financial holdings, made this an opportune time to seek a buyer for the business,” Pruitt said, in the press release. “Vigor Industrial has an impressive vision for Seward Ship’s Drydock and I am confident that I have made a decision which will leave the future of the business, and its employees in safe hands,” he said.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Vigor, our customers, our employees and the workforce here in Seward,” said Frank Foti, president and CEO of Vigor Industrial. “Vigor continually strives to improve our service to the maritime industry, and the purchase of this strategically located shipyard will expand our ability to provide the services our customer’s need, when they need them, where they need them.”
The move was part of Vigor’s larger plan to improve the company’s service offerings in Alaska for existing customers in the fishing, oil and gas and marine transportation sectors as well as increase overall capacity to meet expected increases in demand from arctic drilling and the revitalization of the commercial fishing fleets in the area, Foti said.
“Beyond strengthening our business, we look forward to providing even greater family-wage job opportunities for Seward’s current workforce and Alaskans overall,” Foti said. The purchase will bring the strength of Vigor’s physical, financial and human capital to bear on the yard, which will empower the yard to land more projects and larger-scale projects, translating to more work and sustainable employment for Alaska residents. In addition, Foti said, Vigor will leverage its existing strong public/private partnerships in Alaska to maximize opportunities for the Seward yard.
The city has been working steadily to build up SMIC, and its ship-related businesses over the past year or so. It is planning to lobby the State of Alaska to provide the final $7.9 million it estimates will be needed to enable construction project to begin on a new protective breakwater along with harbor dredging at the industrial center, which was not included in the Alaska Governor Sean Parnell’s Capital Budget. The city also plans to build a new, larger dock facility at SMIC to accommodate the new research vessel Sikuliak, home-porting Coastal Villages fishing fleet, and other vessels such as those involved in Arctic exploration and drilling.
A little background from Seward Ship Drydock’s website: Seward Ship’s opened in 1973 to answer to the growing need for vessel repair services close to the fishing grounds. By 1974, the demand and the increasing work load led to the construction of the current home for Seward Ship’s Chandlery in the Leirer Industrial Park. In 1979 Seward Ship’s leased and rebuilt a 300 ton marine railway facility at Lowell Point. This facility operated until 1985, when Seward Ship’s began drydocking and servicing vessels at the Seward Marine Industrial Center, utilizing the new 5,000 ton Syncro-Lift. In 1988 Seward Ship’s leased two acres at the Seward Marine Industrial Center, the present site of Seward Ship’s Drydock, Inc. operations.”
Reported by Heidi Zemach.