• Saturday , 20 April 2019

Naval architect poised to make waves with four new Foss tugs

Janic Trepanier joined Foss Maritime in 2014. She is Janic Trepanier is currently managing the construction of four new 90-ton harbor tugs.
Janic Trepanier joined Foss Maritime in 2014. She’s currently managing the construction of four new 90-ton harbor tugs.

Janic Trepanier is managing the construction of four 90-ton harbor tugs; she fell in love with the maritime industry in her hometown of Quebec City.

By Hilary Reeves

Janic Trepanier grew up in Quebec City, Canada and spent every summer on a sailboat.

“It’s warm in Quebec during the summer, so we sailed up and down the Saint Lawrence River, exploring every nook we could find,” she said. “My dad passed away when I was a kid and my mom became our Captain. She taught my brother, my sister and me everything we needed to know, especially to stand strong and that there are no boundaries to what we can achieve.”

Quebec City is the capital city of Canada’s mostly French-speaking Quebec province. Trepanier’s father was French-Canadian. Her mother emigrated from Paris when she was a young teenager.

“I had a very good childhood,” she said, “and it was pretty clear to me from a young age that I wanted to design sailboats.”

After high school, Trepanier applied and was accepted to the Institut Maritime du Quebec Maritime. She studied Naval Architecture, but after graduating, she wanted to go further in her studies.

“I wanted to become an engineer,” she explained. “I decided that I wanted to attend the University of Southampton in England.”

She moved to London in 2002 when she was 21 years old. Her major obstacles were twofold: she hadn’t yet been accepted into the University, and she didn’t speak very good English. But once she decided, there was no going back.

“I found a job in a wine bar in London. They hired me because they liked the way I could properly pronounce all the French wines,” she laughed. “It gave me chance to work on my English, and I was eventually accepted into the University.”

“I found a job in a wine bar in London. They hired me because they liked the way I could properly pronounce all the French wines,” she laughed. “It gave me chance to work on my English, and I was eventually accepted into the University.”

Trepanier concentrated on Engineering, specializing in Ship Science.

“Most of the other engineering students were studying aerospace engineering, so there was quite a lot of aerospace, mechanical engineering…all the professors were from different countries and seemed to all speak English differently. My first semester was a bit of a disaster, but I figured it out and graduated in 2005 with honors.”

She came back to Canada and cast her net over the job market.

“I sent my resume to 43 shipyards throughout the U.S. and Canada,” she said. “I was eventually hired by Joe Martinac, Jr. (of J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Corp. in Tacoma, Washington) and began building tugs, including the America and Pacific Star, which ended up in the Foss fleet as charters.”

Trepanier spent five years at the shipyard and was the eventual architect of 12 tugs. She spent the next three years at GPA learning the design side of shipbuilding.

“I was really missing the shipyard’s hands-on style and being in the field, so I went looking for something else and came to Foss in 2014. I immediately felt happy here and very at home.”

Trepanier is a resident expert on sealift engineering and is the door to all technical engineering requests from the fleet. She traveled to Korea three years in a row to act as the on-site engineer and was also critical to Foss’s projects in Russia. She’s now managing the construction of four new 90-ton harbor tugs under construction at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Whidbey Island.

Naval Architect Janic Trepanier represented Foss to Alaska Native students at a workshop in November.
Naval Architect Janic Trepanier represented Foss to Alaska Native students at a workshop in November.

“I’m on the owner side now, so that’s nice,” she laughed. “There are four in progress with an option for six more for a total of ten. They are Tier IV and the first two are rescue towing tugs headed to San Francisco and Southern California.”

Trepanier lives in Snoqualmie, a mountain town 35 minutes east of downtown Seattle where she works at the Foss corporate office and travels few times each week to the construction site on Whidbey Island.

“I love Washington and being at Foss. There’re so many things to do here with the mountains and the water; it’s a fantastic state to play in” she said.

Trepanier has a nine-year-old daughter, Ania, who keeps her busy. Her family still lives in Quebec.

“When I look back on my path, I never questioned what I was doing,” she explained. “Probably the furthest I got from my original dream was that in the beginning, I wanted to design sailboats – but in school, you only learn about commercial vessels and I don’t regret it one bit.”

Of the commercial vessels, she finds working on the tugs most fulfilling.

“As a naval architect, the tug boat is small enough that you can manage every aspect of it, you have your hands in design, structural and mechanical engineering, stability, etc.,” she said. “On a larger vessel, it’s easier to get pigeon-holed into one area of engineering.”

For now, Trepanier said, she is focused on never becoming stagnant, to changing and adapting. And on keeping her eyes on her goals.

“The most important thing for me is to love what I do every day and accomplish something I can be proud of. Find what you’re passionate about, work hard, stay accountable and enjoy what you do.”

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