Arctic-bound tugboats being built in Washington

The Associated Press /

RAINIER, Wash. — Giant tugboats being built in Washington state are designed for oil and gas mining work in Alaska.

Foss Marine, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, has begun building a fleet of three Arctic-class tugboats in its Rainier shipyard.

The first of the $10 million tugs, the Michele Marie, is supposed to be ready by spring to serve in remote oil fields in the Arctic, The Longview Daily News reported.

The hull is completed and workers are getting ready to install the main engine next week.

Shipyard director Don Nugent says the tug is the biggest and most complex one they’ve ever built in southwest Washington. When completed, the Michele Marie will be able to pull 120 tons through Alaska’s icy waters. It will be capable of traveling 30 days without refueling.

Gary Faber, senior vice president at Foss, says the Northwest has historic ties to Alaska, and building the tugs to service oil and gas industries in the far north continue the connection.

Foss, based in Seattle, was founded in 1889 in Tacoma by Thea Foss, who owned a single tugboat.

“She started with zero. She built one of the first thriving industries up here. There isn’t any reason why we can’t be innovative and looking for opportunities,” Faber said.