Ketchikan shipyard building Alaska ferries expects to lay off up to 80 workers

KETCHIKAN — A Ketchikan shipyard is expecting to lay off 50 to 80 workers between October and the end of the year.

Vigor Alaska officials informed workers of the layoffs at a meeting last week, citing a lack of new construction projects, the Ketchikan Daily News reported.

Without more work orders coming in, the company will need to lay off "core workers," said Doug Ward, the director of shipyard development. The company that operates the shipyard is a subsidiary of Vigor Industrial, based in Portland, Oregon.

"We wanted to give our folks a heads-up so they can get on with planning their lives," Ward said. "We're scrambling internally to find work in our other yards and other projects."

The shipyard has about 300 workers, including about 100 contract workers brought on to accelerate work on the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Hubbard, Ward said. The new ferry Tazlina was christened at the shipyard this month.

Structural work on the Hubbard is expected to begin winding down next month, so the layoffs would likely occur in the following months, Ward said. The ferry project is expected to be completed in March 2019, he said.

Workers laid off may be able to find work at the company's other yards and projects, Ward said.

"For example, we're doing ground-based missile defense in Fort Greely," Ward said. "That will begin in January and those who have the knowledge, skills and abilities that are needed for that work at Fort Greeley will have the opportunity to go up there for that project."