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All American Marine, Fairhaven Shipyard to expand

The new M/V Sally Fox, a 250-passenger ferry built by All American Marine Inc., sets sail from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal on March 13, 2015. The Port of Bellingham announced plans Wednesday, June 17 to change the layout, build a new pier and new buildings on 7.66 acres of property that’s home to All American Marine and Fairhaven Shipyard.
The new M/V Sally Fox, a 250-passenger ferry built by All American Marine Inc., sets sail from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal on March 13, 2015. The Port of Bellingham announced plans Wednesday, June 17 to change the layout, build a new pier and new buildings on 7.66 acres of property that’s home to All American Marine and Fairhaven Shipyard. The Bellingham Herald

The Port of Bellingham has announced plans for a major redevelopment project on waterfront industrial property in Fairhaven for two key maritime tenants.

Plans were announced Wednesday, June 17, to change the layout, provide soil and sediment cleanup, build a new pier and a new building on 7.66 acres of property that’s home to All American Marine and Fairhaven Shipyard. The port has worked with both companies to come up with a plan to help each one grow, according to a port news release.

For All American Marine, it will mean a new 39,000-square-foot facility that will allow the company to eventually hire an anticipated 25 to 30 employees in the near future, adding to its current 45-person workforce. The company builds high-speed catamarans for a variety of uses, including ferries and research vessels.

A nearby building known as Warehouse 9 would be torn down and some parking spaces removed to make way for the new building. All American would remain at its current facility until the new facility is ready in the summer of 2016.

The project is contingent on the port getting the necessary grants to help pay for it. All American Marine also can back out of the plan if the costs become too much for the company to bear, said Mike Hogan, public affairs administrator for the port.

This expansion will allow All American Marine to double in size and bid on larger-vessel contracts. Currently the company typically makes boats that carry around 150 passengers and most recently boats in the 250-passenger range. In the new facility it can bid on contracts for boats that carry up to 400 passengers.

The company has missed some opportunities to make the larger ships because the current facility couldn’t handle it, said Matt Mullett, president and CEO of All American Marine.

Demand has increased for the larger boats, particularly from ferry districts and transportation authorities that want the passenger-only ferries, Mullett said. Companies and government agencies like the fuel efficiency and the vessel stability the catamaran design offers, he said.

The company is busy with several projects, including a 250-passenger ferry called Doc Maynard, which is expected to be completed in September, a 50-foot research vessel for the University of New Hampshire and an 83-foot dinner cruise/whale watching boat slated to go to Long Beach, Calif. The research vessel and dinner cruise boat are expected to be completed in early 2016.

Fairhaven Shipyard will get a $7.6 million pier to replace the current wooden pier. The current pier is used by the company but has significant load restrictions, according to the port.

The shipyard also will get a new facility layout, which will allow the company to expand, said Neil Turney, president of the shipyard’s parent company, Puglia Engineering. Once the new building is completed, Fairhaven Shipyard would move into All American Marine’s current building.

The new shipyard pier will have steel pilings and a concrete deck, matching the section of the pier that was constructed in the 1990s, Hogan said.

Fairhaven Shipyard has dry-docking capabilities to do repairs and upgrades for public and private vessels, including Washington and Alaska state ferries, Coast Guard and NOAA vessels. It also has a 140-ton land crane and a 65-ton floating crane.

The pier replacement also will allow for a cleanup of contaminated sediments. The cleanup component of the project and pier replacement is estimated at about $14 million, with half of the cleanup costs to be paid for through Model Toxic Control Act grants.

Cleanup will include tackling both soil on the property and marine sediments near the pier, Hogan said. Old creosote-treated wood will be removed, while fish habitat should improve with the removal of 9,600 square feet of structures that shade the water, Hogan said. It hasn’t been decided yet where the contaminated sediment and soil would go, but Hogan anticipates it would be sent to a permitted landfill in eastern Washington or Oregon.

The cleanup portion is expected to take place over several years. The cleanup in the water is limited to different times of the year to reduce the impact on fish.

It turned out to be a complicated deal to put together, said Rob Fix, the port’s executive director. That’s because it involved accommodating the current tenants as well as developing a cleanup plan on land and in water. The property has long been used for industrial projects, so it has industrial contamination from previous tenants that needs to be addressed.

Funding for these projects will come a variety of ways. The All American Marine facility will be paid for through a new 25-year lease with the port. The company will invest in a variety of building improvements, including equipment such as cranes. The port also plans to apply for funding support through Whatcom County’s Economic Development Investment Program.

Reach Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com.

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