Seattle Shipyards: What to See and Do

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When you think about shipyards, what do you envision? Is it a floating parking lot, full of tankers and industrial sea-faring equipment? Is it fishing boats as far as the eyes can see? What about a pleasant harbor with a few fantastic restaurants and a cruise ship docked nearby? If you answered yes to all three, you can start to get an idea of what the shipyards in Seattle look like. Some areas focus on seafood, others have more of an industrial focus, and still others serve as entry and exit points for tourists and travelers. Seattle has long been a hub for ocean traffic, and there are many interesting things to see and do.

Vigor Shipyards

When it comes to shipyards, Vigor is a household name. Well, maybe it’s a dockyard name. When it comes to shipyards in Seattle, it is one of the largest and most versatile shipyards in the city. The company operates out of several cities, but one of its main shipyards lies in Seattle. While the company does many things, it primarily focuses on industrial services, repair work, and shipbuilding. Included on its list of specialties are the fabrication of large bridge girders, space launch towers, and nuclear containment structures. With a company so well-versed in constructing high-profile, complex projects, it is no wonder that Vigor leads the pack, both in Seattle and beyond. It’s not all about industrial use. Vigor is working with the University of Portland to create a habitat for monarch butterflies!

Northlake Shipyard

Northlake is somewhat unique among the shipyards in Seattle in that it places a lot of focus on the do-it-yourself (DIY) attitude. Unlike most other shipyards, Northlake gives ship owners the chance to lease space and equipment, so they can do their own repairs and maintenance to save money. The shipyard doesn’t expect everyone to do all their own work, however. It has a large and fully capable team that can service any vessel that comes in. The 130,000-square-foot facility has more than enough space to handle a variety of ships and boats. Why not plan your visit around the shipyard’s annual Lake Union Boats Afloat Show or other events?

Lake Union Drydock Company

One of the oldest shipyards in Seattle is also one of the best. The company started back in 1919, when the world of shipping in America required an entirely different set of tools and know-how. Today, the Lake Union Drydock Company has been through every major change the industry has seen, as it is able to handle just about every job that comes across its docks. The level of quality that goes along with the work that it does is second to none. The team employed by the company has all the skills necessary to build and convert ships, repair any type of problem, and have pride only found in a family-owned business. Should you decide to visit the folks at the Lake Union Drydock Company, you can see their impressive set-up. Operating on 12 acres and servicing marine vessels from two separate drydocks, this company can work on pretty much anything that floats. Whether it’s plumbing, welding, painting, engine servicing, or anything else from their long list of services, Lake Union Drydock Company is a one-stop-shop.


Foss is a shipyard that prides itself on the types of services and solutions it offers to its customers. Its services are among the best in the world, and it operates alongside the top shipyards in both Seattle and Rainier. There is no shortage of services that Foss offers, and its diversity has a lot to do with its success. From oil field services to yacht construction to tanker support and cargo solutions, there is very little that this company cannot do. If you are interested in the products that Foss has to offer, there are a variety of tugs, including harbor tugs and ocean tugs. It has deck barges, complete with Heli pads and everything you would need to get people on and off in a hurry. The company also produces water taxis and utility vessels. For example, Foss built new fireboats for the Port of Long Beach in California. Seattle shipyards are more than meets the eye. Unless you get in close to see what’s going on, it is easy to just dismiss the areas as being strictly for industrial purposes. Once you get close enough, however, you see that there is a whole new world waiting to be discovered. If it is the untailored culture of the Northwest that you want to experience, there really are no better places to go. You see people at work, ships of all kinds coming and going, and you get a taste – quite literally – of some of the business going on. The shipyards in Seattle are well worth a visit. Have you been to the shipyards in Seattle? If not, why not plan a trip?