Foss 75


   The Foss 75 is a large barge built originally for the United States Maritime Commissions “Barge Program” in Portland Oregon in 1943. The purpose of the Maritime Commission was to form a merchant shipbuilding program to design and then build 50 ships a year for 10 years, to replace WWI vintage vessels which made up the bulk of the US Merchant Marine. They wanted fast, merchant cargo ships to be built, as well as a number of tow barges.

   The barges were mainly used for transporting coal and other commodities to the in need Eastern seaboard cities. But in August of 1943, with the crisis of shortage of those supplies in the Northeast being solved in other ways, the Office of Defense Transportation concluded that the large barges would not be needed.

   In September the Commission advised all the ship builders that it would not accept delivery of any barge subsequent to December 31, 1943. All wooden barges not completed by that date were cancelled.

   The BC-1936, for which the Foss 75 was originally named, was completed before the cutoff date and used for years.


   In 1946, the Merchant Sales Act was passed to sell off a large portion of the ships previously built during the war to commercial buyers, both domestic and foreign.  The BC-1936 was then sold off on September 25, 1946 to the Foss Maritime Company, and renamed Foss 75.

   Foss Maritime Co. was founded in 1889 by Thea and her husband Andrew Foss. The company started when Thea Foss bought a used rowboat for $5 hoping to fix it up and rent it out, to help pay for the family’s finances. After she cleaned, repaired, and painted it the now famous Foss green and white, she subsequently sold it for a profit. When Thea Realized she and Andrew could keep on doing this, all the while renting the boats out, the Foss Company was born.

   The couple bought several more boats and rented them out to fishermen, duck hunters, customers that wanted ferry passage, and to move supplies in the Tacoma waterways.

Thea would purchase more rowboats and launches while her husband, who was a skilled carpenter, began building them. Soon thereafter, the fleets were up to 200 boats. The business eventually expanded into transporting logs with their towboats, under the name “Foss Launch and Tug Company”. By 1904, Foss Company was 10 launches, a shipyard, a 60-passenger, oil powered boat, and a small rescue craft.

   During World War I, the Fosses were able to buy into a Seattle tugboat firm, and the Foss Launch and Tug Company became a Seattle company.

   The Foss 75 was used by Foss to move sand and gravel on Puget Sound, with routes from the gravel pits at Steilacoom to various batch plants in Lake Union, Graystone, Pioneer, and Glacier.


   The wooden scow known as #75 is 110 feet long by 38 feet wide and 10 feet tall. The barge fell out of service in the early 1970’s and was then sold to Andreanof Island Corporation of Seattle on March 15, 1976.

Information after it was sold to Andeanof is hazy at best, and it was most likely scuttled by the company instead of being properly disposed of, because of time, money and for the sheer size of it.

Foss barge just like the 75 / Courtesy Penninsula Historical Society


Courtesy PSMHS

Courtesy PSMHS

Courtesy PSHMS

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