Shipbuilder to reopen Tacoma facility, bringing 75 jobs for maritime workers

TACOMA, Wash. — SAFE Boats International announced it will reopen its Port of Tacoma manufacturing operation and add 75 new maritime jobs thanks to a $100 million contract from the U.S. Navy.

The company said it is working through the preparation stage of reopening, but it expects to begin recruiting key workers next month with the bulk of its hiring in the third quarter of this year.

The Bremerton-based shipbuilder was granted a portion of the Navy contract in January to purchase long-lead materials for the first two boats. It will provide 16 boats to the Navy to be sold to the government of Ukraine.

In June 2020, the Department of Defense announced Ukraine was looking to buy up to $600 million in military patrol boats. The SAFE Boats Mark VI is an 85-foot patrol boat currently used exclusively by the U.S. Navy.

“Ukraine will utilize the vessels to better defend its territorial waters and protect other maritime interests,” said the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in a news release.

SAFE Boats has manufactured vessels for navies and first responders in almost 70 countries, including Ukraine.

SAFE Boats CEO Richard Schwarz said the company has been working toward reopening the Tacoma facility for more than three years with the help of the Tacoma-Pierce County Economic Development Board, Impact Washington and the Port of Tacoma.

“SAFE Boats is incredibly fortunate to have such a strong and engaged team supporting our efforts to bring production back to our Tacoma facility,” Schwarz said in a press release. “This is an incredible example of a true partnership which will create jobs and generate economic growth for the region while supporting national security and foreign policy objectives.”

The Tacoma plant, located between the Blair and Hylebos waterways in the Port of Tacoma, was originally opened to produce boats larger than 65-feet, but production was shuttered after the company fulfilled its initial contract with the Navy. Schwarz told The News Tribune that SAFE Boats has retained its lease with the Port of Tacoma for the past three years, anticipating a new contract would eventually be signed.

In a report to the Tacoma City Council, the City Managers’ office said the company expects to begin production at the plant in January 2022 with the first boats being delivered in December 2022.

This story was written by The News Tribune.