Tacoma’s Martinac shipyard sold at auction

A limited liability corporation calling itself Washington Landmark Holdings LLC purchased the Tacoma’s J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Co. on Friday for a little more than $6 million in a foreclosure auction on the County-City Building plaza.

The amount the corporation paid, $6,001,992.64, was the exact amount including fees and penalties owed to the fishing company that had loaned the shipyard funds to finish a 184-foot fishing boat in December 2012.

The shipyard, Tacoma’s oldest, fell behind in paying the debt when it was unable to land new business for its Thea Foss Waterway shipyard.

Few clues were available as to what the new owner plans to do with its acquisition. No limited liability corporation with the same name is registered with the Washington Secretary of State. An Internet search failed to find a company that matches the name made public at the auction. No representative of the company appeared at the 10 a.m. auction having submitted its bid to the trustee before the sale.

The new owner may simply be a stand-in for Alaskan Leader Fisheries, the company that originally loaned the shipyard the funds, or it might be a company that acquired the note for the loan from Alaskan. Alaskan had not returned calls regarding the shipyard foreclosure.

The sale could mark the end of shipbuilding on the site at South 15th Street on the east side of the Thea Foss Waterway near downtown Tacoma.

J.M. Martinac had built boats ranging from giant tuna clippers to tugs for 90 years in Tacoma.

In recent years, the company has seen years without contracts followed by several years of building activity. The fishing vessel, the Northern Leader — the largest built in the Pacific Northwest in decades — was equipped with cutting-edge fishing systems, electronics and engines. It left the yard a year ago. The boat reportedly is now fishing in Alaskan waters.

A desperate effort failed to land new contracts for the shipyard, whose shaky financial condition deterred tug companies and other potential customers from committing to new construction deals.

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