A look at upcoming changes to Fairhaven Shipyard
With a Fairhaven shipyard having gone quiet, the Port of Bellingham has begun its search for a new company to take over the area.
Puglia Engineering, known locally as Fairhaven Shipyard, finished up repair work on a Pierce County ferry earlier this week, and the port plans to retake possession of the property on June 1, port spokesman Mike Hogan told The Bellingham Herald. The port plans to lease the property for continued marine industrial use in order to support working waterfront jobs.
On March 28, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Brian D. Lynch signed an order to convert last year’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization filing by Puglia to a Chapter 7 filing, forcing the liquidation of the company. At the time of the filing Puglia President Neil Turney said attempts were being made to sell the company, but that hasn’t happened to this point, according to court documents.
Instead, Hogan said the court-appointed trustee and a third-party bank are beginning the process of removing some of the equipment, which will be sold. That includes the 460-foot Faithful Servant drydock, several cranes and other miscellaneous equipment.
At the time of the original 2018 bankruptcy filing, Fairhaven Shipyard employed about 75 workers, while the company’s Tacoma facility had about 25 employees.
Turney maintained that the Fairhaven facility was profitable; the bankruptcy had more to do with the financial difficulties during an attempted acquisition of a drydock in California. That acquisition resulted in a protracted court case that hurt Puglia’s ability to function, he said.
Hogan said the port already has received interest in the property, but any negotiations are preliminary at this point.
“There are no other properties like Fairhaven Shipyard in the state of Washington and the port is confident it can reactivate the property,” Hogan said.
The property itself is in the final stages of a major cleanup and renovation project. IMCO General Construction was awarded a $12.5 million contract to do some dredging, improve marine habitat, remove a building that was sitting over the water and rebuild a pier. The second phase of cleanup work is currently going through a public permit process.