Good news in the P.N.W

The Greenbrier Cos. said Thursday that its Gunderson Marine division in North Portland received another order for an ocean-going barge to transport oil and chemicals.

The order pushed the facility’s backlog to a five-year high and means Gunderson will be hiring another 200 workers in the next several months.

The Lake Oswego-based railcar and barge maker didn’t disclose the size of the individual order, but said it now has a $120 million backlog in its marine business, including three barges in process and another two on order. It’s a remarkable turnaround for a slice of Greenbrier’s business that remained in the doldrums after the 2008 financial crisis, even as its rail business picked up steam. Like the rail side of the business, where tank cars are hot commodities, one big driver for marine is transporting oil products.

The order from Kirby Offshore Marine is for a 578-foot tank barge with a carrying capacity of 185,000 barrels. The vessel, coupled with an identical Kirby barge order in January, is among the largest barges Gunderson has ever built. The second is scheduled for completion in early 2016, the company said.

The Gunderson plant also manufactures intermodal fright cars. Demand has not been as strong as the tank car business. but Gunderson General Manager Mark Eitzen said business has slowly ramped up and the focus has been on automating its production lines to better compete with railcar manufacturing facilities in Mexico.

Gunderson’s employee head count has been volatile during the last five years, reflecting its boom-and-bust business cycle. Eitzen said before the 2008 downturn, it reached a high of 1,200. But orders for both rail cars and barges collapsed with the U.S. economy, and employment at the facility was as low as 400 until about 18 months ago. It has hired 200 employees in recent months and expects to add another 200 in coming months, which would bring total employment at the facility to more than 1,000 workers.

  • Ted Sickinger

They build some top notch barges! Good to hear they are busy!

those are some BMF barges! 578’ and 185k bbl would not be a shabby sized product tanker. I wonder if Kirby in building new tugs to tow these?

this is obviously a clear indication that the Jones Act is not an impediment to new orders and that the shipyards as well as shipyard workers are benefiting here. Everybody wins in this equation!

[QUOTE=c.captain;136829]those are some BMF barges! 578’ and 185k bbl would not be a shabby sized product tanker. I wonder if Kirby in building new tugs to tow these?

this is obviously a clear indication that the Jones Act is not an impediment to new orders and that the shipyards as well as shipyard workers are benefiting here. Everybody wins in this equation![/QUOTE]

I would assume this is part of the new ATB that Kirby announced back in January of this year. I remember there was some discussion on here about the quoted price of $70-80 million for the new unit. According to this new article from today, Kirby not only exercised their option for a second unit from that original announcement in January, but they have also approved the purchase of an additional two units for a total of four new-builds!

“As a result of consistently strong coastal tank barge demand, utilization and increasing pricing, yesterday we exercised our option for the construction of a second 185,000 barrel coastal articulated tank barge and 10000 horsepower tugboat unit for approximately $75 million, with expected delivery in the first half of 2016,” added Grzebinski. ”Also, yesterday our Board of Directors approved the construction of two additional ATB’s and we will update our capital spending guidance once we have construction contracts signed.”

I worry that Kirby, a big Gulf Coast company with Gulf Coast attitudes, Gulf Coast employee physicals, and mountains of Gulf Coast paperwork, is getting too big on the West Coast. I fear that this is going to have a corrosive effect on small family companies and the traditional quality and quantity of PNW mariner jobs.

[QUOTE=tugsailor;136837]I worry that Kirby, a big Gulf Coast company with Gulf Coast attitudes, Gulf Coast employee physicals, and mountains of Gulf Coast paperwork, is getting too big on the West Coast. I fear that this is going to have a corrosive effect on small family companies and the traditional quality and quantity of PNW mariner jobs.[/QUOTE]

It’s not necessarily the “Kirby” in Kirby that you should be worried about, granted much of what you say is true. I think the real concern is that nasty bit of K-Sea they still have left in them. You can take the boats out of K-Sea but you can’t take the K-Sea out of the boats.

[QUOTE=PaddyWest2012;136838]It’s not necessarily the “Kirby” in Kirby that you should be worried about, granted much of what you say is true. I think the real concern is that nasty bit of K-Sea they still have left in them. You can take the boats out of K-Sea but you can’t take the K-Sea out of the boats.[/QUOTE]

A southern company with their way of doing thing is forcing its will on a disorganized “barge captain” northeast company, I see “shows” on a daily basis. Biggest issue for me is un-manning the non-ATB barges. Allegedly they have a contract coming up, lot of eyes seeing what they settle for. If they do well, good on them, if they get a bad deal it will hurt raises throughout the tugboat world.

Funny you don’t hear them looking for people? Even the top-tier companies in NY broadcast the need for someone once in a while.

I’ll also say after a promising start some of the Genesis units are acting strange, wonder if its the office’s doing?

[QUOTE=z-drive;136848]A southern company with their way of doing thing is forcing its will on a disorganized “barge captain” northeast company, I see “shows” on a daily basis. Biggest issue for me is un-manning the non-ATB barges. Allegedly they have a contract coming up, lot of eyes seeing what they settle for. If they do well, good on them, if they get a bad deal it will hurt raises throughout the tugboat world.

Funny you don’t hear them looking for people? Even the top-tier companies in NY broadcast the need for someone once in a while.

I’ll also say after a promising start some of the Genesis units are acting strange, wonder if its the office’s doing?[/QUOTE]

Kirby doesn’t seem to want to hire local. Kirby officers in the west are usually complaining about working too much because there are inadequate relief officers available. Kirby is also famous for its excessive physicals, but they can be flexible with guys that they want. With crew Kirby seems to prefer to transfer in the “yessah bossman” types from the Gulf or the Mississippi River

I think Harley is making a push to take over a lot of Kirby’s alaska work in the future just wait and see

More good news in Portland Ore. Now that the grain deals are done we can focus on work to be had!!! Just add a new dry dock and look out:-) A $40 million floating drydock called Vigorous was set afloat Wednesday north of the St. Johns Bridge after being carried across the Pacific Ocean by the world’s largest heavy-lift ship. The drydock is in three parts for now, but will eventually be assembled into a single unit at Swan Island for Vigor Industrial. Fully assembled, it will be 960-feet long, almost twice as long as Portland’s KOIN Tower is tall. The drydock was originally scheduled to arrive in March, but encountered construction delays in China. Two ships in need of maintenance are queued up at Swan Island, waiting for the drydock, which is expected to be ready Nov. 1. These two time-lapse videos show the dry dock being carried into place Wednesday. Also, check out our earlier multimedia coverage from when the ship, the MV Blue Marlin, came up the Columbia River. Track the Blue Marlin here as it leaves Portland along the Columbia River to Astoria. --Mark Graves having issues with uploading pictures sorry.

Is this the case at all the terminals there or are there still any locked our?

In Portland the ILWU are working the grain docks that they had been locked out of & the union boats are back to servicing these docks.

The Kirby influence from down south is helping get the boats fixed. I wouldn’t say the Ksea mentality is on the boats or was it ever on the west coast really… Ksea is still lingering at 2700 W commodore way, and that needs to change.