BELLINGHAM - The Faithful Servant submersible barge is back at its moorings at Fairhaven Shipyard after hauling a floating tourist lodge from the west side of Vancouver Island to Campbell River, B.C., on the other side of the island.
The lodge is being refurbished at Campbell River for eventual installation at Knight Inlet on the mainland, where the floating Knight Inlet Lodge burned to the waterline in September 2012.
Neil Turney, president of shipyard owner Puglia Engineering, said the owners of the Knight Inlet Lodge scrambled to find a suitable structure they could install in time for the 2013 tourist season. The one they found was the Hoiss Point Lodge on Nootka Sound that was for sale.
The Faithful Servant operates as a floating dry dock. It usually stays in Fairhaven, where it is used to raise a variety of large vessels and marine structures out of the water for hull maintenance. It can be towed out into Bellingham Bay when necessary to accommodate the largest vessels, such as Alaska state ferries.
Turney said a Canadian tug boat hauled the Faithful Servant to Nootka Sound, where Fairhaven Shipyard employees supervised the task of getting the lodge secure on board. Although the job was outside the Faithful Servant's routine, it was not difficult, because the lodge is lighter than a large vessel and has a shallow draft.
"It's probably the easiest thing we've ever lifted," Turney said.
The Faithful Servant has operated here since 2009, after Puglia invested millions in transporting it here from China and refurbishing it.
About a year ago, Turney said the Faithful Servant was losing money and his company would be forced to sell it, threatening the loss of employment for 30 to 80 people who can be put to work when the shipyard has a customer for its services.
On Wednesday, March 20, Turney said the sale of the Faithful Servant is still possible, and he is still in long-running negotiations with a potential purchaser. But there is also a chance that the vessel could stay here.
"We don't have a crystal ball for the future," Turney said. "There's lots of work to chase for it. ... Our preference is to keep it and keep managing the debt on it and keep a stable flow of work running though the yard."