By Dorie Cox
From Vancouver, Washington, to Tennessee is a big trip for shipyard equipment and several yachts. But a move that Jim Gilbert, president of Christensen Shipyard, said has been in the works since before the 2008 U.S. economic recession.
After nearly 30 years near the U.S. west coast, Christensen will move to Tellico Lake in the eastern part of Tennessee. The move will allow the ship builder to meet customer requests for larger yachts.
Talk of building this new facility started when management began to see interest in larger yachts around 2004 or ‘05, Gilbert said by phone. Work on the Tellico facility was almost complete in 2008, but the move has been on hold because of the recession, he said.
“In that time, the boats had gotten bigger, the market shifted toward the high end; clients want beamier boats,” he said. “We were at our max with 50 meters. We built more than a dozen [in Vancouver] but it taxed the production process. The bays are narrow in that facility.”
The Tellico facility is about 90 percent complete, and Christensen is in the process of moving equipment to the 55-acre property. There are 13 manufacturing and assembly bays in the 450,000-square-foot manufacturing space, which will allow for yachts up to 225 feet. Hull 38 will be transported for final work and Hull 42 for ongoing work, Gilbert said.
“It will take most of summer to move, set up the equipment, align it and finish,” he said.