Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

By Chris Philips
Managing Editor 

Deck Machinery: Tough Gear to Keep You Fishing


January 1, 2018

Rapp recently provided seven electric winches to the M/V Excellence. Photo courtesy of Rapp.

The industry saw another small building boom this year, with new boats and refits keeping yards busy. Deck machinery manufacturers rose to the challenge by keeping these boats supplied with the latest technology.

In the big boat sector, Rapp Marine has engineered, manufactured and delivered a full suite of electric winches to the recently reconditioned M/V Excellence for Premier Pacific Seafoods. The Excellence was originally built in 1973 as a factory trawler, and has operated as a mothership pollock and hake processor since 1990. A major overhaul and factory update was completed in 2017 with design, engineering and stability work completed by Seattle-based Naval Architecture firm Glosten and factory design and install completed by KAMI. The ship ABS drydocking occurred at Seaspan Shipyard in Victoria, Canada, new superstructure and winches were fit to the vessel at the Port of Bellingham, and the final outfitting and commissioning occurred in Seattle before sea trials took place off the coast of Washington in November.

There are seven new Rapp Marine electric winches on the vessel.

The TWS-11040BE model Hawser Rope Winch does the bulk of the work in the fish transfer/cargo handling operation. Equipped with a pulling capacity of 47 tons, the winch can hold approximately 1,900 feet of 3-inch soft line hawser rope. The hawser winch model is powered by Rapp Marine's unique gearbox design, with multiple electric motors for redundancy.

Two GW-4000BE model Gilson Winches and two GW-4000BEC Cod End Winches are included in the winch package. Each Gilson Winch can pull up to 41 tons, and each Cod End Winch can pull 25 tons. Both winch models are designed to hold more than 800 feet of 1-1/4-inch soft line. The smaller GW-680E cargo winches can handle 5 tons of load, and hold over 250 feet of 3/4-inch wire.

Included in the delivery package with the winches is one central variable frequency drive cabinet that provides the power for smooth operation of the winches. Several different control options have been provided to the winches, including a wheelhouse control station as well as several wireless belly packs for operation on deck.


Ballard-based deck machinery manufacturer Kolstrand has been busy building pot hauling systems for Black Cod fishermen. "We've already set up 5 boats with pot hauler systems," Brad Tibbs says. "The response has been great- the customers have been really happy with the systems. There were a couple of kinks to iron out, but the real issue has been getting the fish to swim into the pots."

The company has also redesigned their anchor winch for the Southern California squid fishery. "We've been developing winches for the light boats that offer fast free-spooling and retrieval," Tibbs says. The boats can see quite a bit of shock load handling swells offshore in the Southern California squid fishery. "We've delivered three in the past year," Tibbs says. " They're great-performing winches."

Another new product from Kolstrand is a high-strength ring hook for purse seiners. Unlike the company's stainless steel or galvanized hooks that are cumbersome and difficult to handle, the new hook is machined from a high strength aerospace-grade aluminum. The new hook offers the same strength with half the weight- less than 23 lbs.

This allows for easier handling and lowers the chance of losing the piece overboard. Tibbs says that while the new aluminum ring hooks are easier to handle, they sink just as fast as the heavier steel version.

Clean Gear

Every time Bill Webber, of Cordova, Alaska-based Webber Marine & Manufacturing, runs back out onto the Copper River delta for a commercial fishing period his net is clean. That's because he uses his new net washing system that mounts on the levelwind of his gillnet reel package. Combined with brush bristle agitation and high-pressure water jets blasting on the net as it passes through the levelwind, it cleans the silt, mud and algae out of the web to fully optimize the performance and catchability of the web.

Webber says this piece of equipment can be amortized over a short term payoff of 1-3 years, adding a positive contribution to your bottom line on an annual basis in your drift gillnet operation. The net washing system only fits on the levelwinds that Webber manufactures, but he says if you are in the market for a new levelwind for your existing net reel, his net washing system is a more cost efficient upgrade. If you already own one of his newer model levelwinds this can be an add-on piece of equipment.

Webber says these are available this winter of 2017.

New Home for MARCO

MARCO's Global's full line of deck gear, from davits and winches to the ubiquitous powerblock, are now available from Seattle's Smith Berger.

Since 1962, Smith Berger has been building robust mooring and towing deck machinery for some of the toughest duty cycles on the planet. In April of this year the company purchased the assets of MARCO Global. The company sees the salmon processing equipment, commercial fishing gear and hydraulic pump drives as logical additions to Smith Berger's mooring and towing products and their own salmon processing equipment. At the same time, Smith Berger hired several key MARCO employees having experience with the products, spare parts and repair requirements to ensure a seamless transition for the existing MARCO customers.


For more than 3 decades, North Pacific Crane, formerly Alaska Marine Crane, has served the fishing and maritime industries in Washington and Alaska. The company provides heavy duty cranes designed and built for the rugged use demanded on fishing boats including knuckle, telescope, and fixed boom fishing cranes with lifting capacities that range from 2 tons to the client's custom requirement.

"We build 35 to 40 cranes a year," says engineer Josh Roy. "Only 3 or 4 of those go to the fishing industry, but all of our cranes are used in a maritime environment."

Roy says most ports and harbors in Alaska have a North Pacific Crane. "Almost all the docks in Alaska have one of our cranes," he says, "and we've probably supplied 70 or 80 cranes to the fishing industry alone in the 39 years we've been in business."

Bill Webber's net is clean thanks to his net washing system that mounts on the levelwind of his gillnet reel package. Photo courtesy of Webber Marine & Manufacturing.

The company started in Milton, Washington in 1978, but the sales and engineering staff have since moved to north Seattle, although the structural manufacturing side of the business is based in Carson, Washington on the Columbia River. From there the cranes can be trucked or barged to their final location worldwide.

The company builds 35 to 40 cranes a year, and can produce a made-to-order unit capable of up to 140 tons. The mid size cranes can be produced in 8 to 10 weeks.

The company recently delivered a telescoping crane to the 205-foot trawler Alaska Victory, owned by Ocean Peace. The crane has a reach of up to 50 feet, and is rated at 15 tons at 10 feet.

North Pacific Crane recently completed an order for a contractor on the Alyeska pipeline for eight ABS-classed 100-foot knuckle cranes. The company is also working on a 12-ton, 50-foot ABS-classed crane for NOAA in Hawaii, to be delivered in March and is completing an order for some mid-sized cranes for the middle east to be delivered in 2018.


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