Arctic Directory 2017: Foss Maritime: Expertly managing the world’s toughest marine service challenges
For more than a century Foss has set the standard for marine transportation services
Q. What is the official name of your company?
A. Foss Maritime Company
Q. Is your firm a subsidiary or affiliate of other companies? If so, please name those firms and their relationship to your company.
A. Foss Maritime Company is wholly owned by Saltchuk Resources, a privately owned family investment company formed in 1982 and based in the Pacific Northwest. The independent subsidiaries of Foss include: AmNav, Cook Inlet Tug & Barge and Young Brothers.
Q. What do you most want people to know about your company?
A. Foss Maritime delivers marine services without equal across the globe. From local harbor jobs to complex projects in the world’s harshest environments, Foss has the capabilities, resources and expertise to efficiently manage our customers’ toughest challenges. Our two full-service shipyards offer naval architecture design services, marine engineering, new construction, retrofitting and repairs. We are committed to meeting the unique needs of our customers, to the safety of our employees and to safeguarding the environment.
Q. Where is your company located?
A. Our corporate office is based in Seattle, Washington and our two shipyards are in Seattle and also in Rainier, Oregon. In addition, we have offices in Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and California.
Q. What year was the company founded and by whom?
A. Foss was founded in 1889 by Thea and Andrew Foss in Tacoma, Washington.
Q. What is your company’s primary business activity?
A. Foss owns and operates one of the nation’s largest coastal tug and barge fleets, offering a broad range of green- and blue-water marine services. Foss serves the world’s largest oil and gas companies, international shipping companies and a variety of governmental and nongovernmental agencies. In addition, Foss’ two Pacific Northwest shipyards provide naval architecture, marine engineering services, repairs and maintenance.
Q. Are there important projects the company is currently a part of or has done recently?
A. Foss christened the final of three Arctic Class Tugs, the Nicole Foss, in June of this year. She will follow in the wakes of her sister vessels to handle the tough jobs for which Foss has become known. The Arctic Tugs have towed oil field equipment from Korea to Alaska’s North Slope, traveled thousands of miles across the globe towing drilling rigs – to the Siberian Arctic and another to the North Slope – and joined in our operations at Red Dog Mine. Along with these carefully planned trips, the Arctic Class Tug, Michele Foss, recently executed an emergency rescue of a 751-foot, 81,882-deadweight ton bulk carrier in the Gulf of Alaska.
We also recently completed the transportation of three 320’ long steel bridge sections, each weighing about 700 tons, along with two 100-ton beams to New Jersey. The components will be part of the new Wittpen Bridge across the New Jersey Hackensack River. They were manufactured by Vigor Works, loaded onto Foss’ barge The American Trader on the Columbia River, and then towed by the Lauren Foss south, down the coast and through the Panama Canal before heading to the U.S. East Coast.
Our tugs are hard at work in harbors every day all along the West Coast, Hawaii and Alaska. In addition to ship assist/escort services of the ships calling on ports, Foss also provides a vital link within the oil and gas industry, both in shipping and upstream development. Foss transports bunkers, refined products and raw industry materials between supplier, seller and buyer. We are currently having a LNG bunkering barge completed that will surpass all others in the U.S. The barge will re-liquefy the fuel, as well as transport it.
Q. How many employees does your company have?
A. Over 1,700
Q. Describe the equipment your company uses and are there any new equipment purchases planned?
A. Foss has one of the largest fleets of tugs and barges, and extensive capabilities at our shipyards. In the coming months we continue to move forward on the construction of four new “Kapena Class” (Hawaiian for Captain Class) tugs for our Honolulu based subsidiary, Young Brothers. We are also finalizing the purchase of a new Marine Operating System that will greatly improve the connectivity of fleet and shore.
Q. Is your company expanding any of its operations or locations?
A. We are investing in and expanding on our assets that are designed specifically for the terrain, environmental concerns and needs of extreme environments and shallow water operations. In addition, we are looking at opportunities in renewable energy services as the technology evolves.
Q. Is the company changing any of its services or products?
A. We opened a consolidated customer service center in Oregon in April 2016. The company’s existing Portland office was renovated and modernized to incorporate the best available customer service technologies, including a state-of-the-art telephone system, heightened cyber security, and enhanced dispatching and vessel tracking capabilities.
Also as the world turns more towards renewable enrgy and as technology continues to change, we expect to see our service offerings grow with those changes.
Q. What is your company’s main strength or its edge over the competition?
A. Foss has extensive experience working in harsh environments, and in remote areas with limited infrastructure, and we are committed to protecting the environment and to the highest safety standards. We have a long history in Alaskan waters. We have formed a partnership with the energy services arm of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) and are continuing to expand on our assets. Foss is also invested in furthering green technologies and pushing towards having the highest safety standards in the industry, with a commitment to zero incidents.
Q. What are the biggest obstacles to completing work your company undertakes?
A. Much of our work takes place in extreme environments or in remote locations and we are often brought on to find solutions to operational challenges that others may not be able to deliver on. With our global network there are few challenges we can’t take on.
Q. What do you see as your company’s biggest challenge in the next five years?
A. Foss has built a reputation as an industry leader and to maintain that position we must constantly be ahead of the curve: finding new and innovative solutions, and having the infrastructure in place to take on any challenge.
Q. What is the average length of time employee’s work for the company?
A. Currently, the average length of employment is 12+ years. We have hundreds of employees who have been with us for more than 20 years, and the longest tenure is more than 40 years.
Q. What is your company’s safety record? What steps does the company take to ensure a safe work environment?
A. Foss’ safety program leads the industry with a company-wide zero incident safety culture. Our safety program is built on a sophisticated behavior-based focus, with robust health, safety and compliance programs. We provide frequent reports on Job Safety Analyses, Near Misses and Safety Observations that are being reported each day. We have multiple committees that provide support, and we continually review and discuss notable near misses and observations, safety alerts and safety bulletins.
Q. What is the address of your company’s Web site?