The Vigorous: Investing in the Future

The largest floating drydock in the United States, the Vigorous, has arrived at Vigor Industrial’s Portland shipyard.

Vigorous, new floating drydock

This page contains answers to basic questions, along with photographs and graphics related to the drydock’s journey to Portland. Check out the questions below for more info, and see the resources section at the bottom of the page to download full-resolution photos and graphics.

What’s happening? 

Vigor Industrial’s new floating drydock, the Vigorous, has been successfully delivered to Portland. See our news release for details of arrival.

What is the Vigorous?

The Vigorous is the largest floating drydock in the United States. Once fully assembled, the Vigorous will be 300 feet longer and one and a half times the width of Vigor’s largest drydock, with more than three times the lifting capacity. 

Lifting capacity: 80,000 LT
Length: 960 feet
Inside width: 186 feet
Total width: 228 feet
Height: 70 feet
Weight: 24,000 LT

What’s a floating drydock?

A floating drydock is a U-shaped marine vessel used to service and build ships. Operators let water into the drydock through valves to submerge it, which allows ships to drive in and out of the drydock. When the water is pumped out, the drydock rises in the water, lifting docked vessels out of the water. This allows workers to service and repair parts of the vessel usually under the waterline

Where did it coming from?

In early 2013, Vigor Industrial finalized a deal with Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Qidong Marine Engineering (ZPMC Qidong shipyard) to purchase a new floating drydock.  Construction began at ZPMC in the early 2013, and the drydock arrived at Vigor’s Portland shipyard on Monday, Aug. 25.

How did it get here? 

The dock was built in three sections, which were stacked together and loaded onto a heavy lift ship, the Blue Marlin, for transport. When the Blue Marlin arrived at the mouth of the Columbia, the ship was guided over the Columbia River Bar by the Columbia River Bar Pilots. Once past the bar, the ship was transferred to the Columbia River Pilots to be guided up river to Portland. For more information about the Columbia River Bar Pilots, visit: For more information about the Columbia River Pilots, visit:

Vigorous Drydock enroute to Portland OR

At the Megler Bridge in Astoria

Vigorous Drydock enroute to Portland, Oregon

En Route to Portland

Ships waiting for Vigorous Drydock

At the St. Johns Bridge in Portland

See the resources section below for more photos of the Vigorous en route to Portland.

What is a heavy lift ship? 

A heavy lift ship is a a type of ship that can be partially submerged to allow large cargo, like oil rigs, other ships, and our drydock to be loaded on. Once the cargo is floated over the submerged deck of the ship, the ship is raised back up, allowing it to sail with the new cargo aboard. For more information about heavy lift ships, visit

How much did the Vigorous cost? 

Vigor invested about $50 million to build and transport the Vigorous.The price to build the drydock was $40 million, with $10 million going towards delivery and assembly of the new drydock.

Why did Vigor decide to make such a large capital investment? 

It’s a strategic investment in the future of the company. The new drydock will allow Vigor to meet current and future demand from private and government customers, including service for new Military Sealift Command ships, cruise ships and post-Panamax vessels. In addition, the past 10 years have seen half a dozen large drydocks have gone out of service, and several others are reaching the end of their useful lives.

Why Portland? 

The new drydock replaces one Vigor sold in 2001 in order to pay down debt and strengthen the company. Since then, Vigor has grown and become much stronger financially, allowing the company to make this large investment and restore this capacity to the Portland yard.

Is there any work lined up for the new drydock?

Yes, two 946-foot-long cargo ships are docked in Portland and awaiting service in the new drydock: the Algol and Capella, both owned by the U.S. Maritime Administration. Without the new drydock, these ships could not have been serviced in Portland and the work would have gone elsewhere. We also have a cruise ship in line for service.

What does this mean for Vigor overall? 

This investment ensures that Vigor has the most diverse range capabilities, shipyards and drydocks on the West Coast. This is an investment in Vigor’s ability to serve its customers, safely and efficiently, with the best equipment for the job. The new drydock provides several additional benefits:

  • Increased capacity: The Vigorous will allow the company to relocate another drydock from Portland to Vigor’s Seattle shipyard, providing new capacity to service vessels there. 
  • Stable business: The new drydock will allow Vigor to serve a more diverse customer base, which will help the company better weather downturns in any one market segment.
  • More work: The new drydock will help us grow and create jobs across the Pacific Northwest. A bigger drydock will open new opportunities for Vigor to compete for larger projects, and with more capacity in Seattle and Portland, we expect to have more work in both areas.


Feel free to download and share the images below. All we ask is that you credit Vigor Industrial.

Click images to view / download high resolution versions.

Vigorous Drydock

Rendering of Ship in Vigorous Drydock

Rendering of Vigorous Drydock in Portland

Ships waiting for Vigorous Drydock

Ships Waiting for Drydock

Vigorous Drydock Infographic showing its size

Infographic Showing Size of Drydock (blue)

Infographic Showing Size of Vigorous Drydock

Infographic Showing Size of Drydock (white)

Vigorous Drydock Transit Viewpoints Map

Map of Viewpoints for Drydock Transit

Vigorous Drydock at Megler Bridge in Astoria

At the Megler Bridge in Astoria

Vigorous Drydock at Megler Bridge in Astoria

At the Megler Bridge in Astoria

Vigorous Drydock at Megler Bridge in Astoria

At the Megler Bridge in Astoria

Vigorous Drydock at St. Johns Bridge in Portland, OR

En Route to Portland

Vigorous Drydock at St. Johns Bridge in Portland, OR

At the St. Johns Bridge in Portland