Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

First Modern Trawl Catcher Processor Heads North


The newly lengthened and refurbished Seafreeze America will join the Amendment 80 fleet later this month. Photo by Bob Olson courtesy of US Seafoods.

The 233-foot Amendment 80 catcher/processor Seafreeze America was christened last month at the Seattle offices of United States Seafoods. Not a newbuild, but new to the fishing industry, the vessel was originally built for the US Navy in 1990 as a 188-foot research vessel. The new boat continues a longstanding tradition in the commercial fishing fleet of converting existing vessels, often oil supply vessels from the Gulf, to fish in the North Pacific.

The christening at the company's dock last month marks the first new trawl catcher processor to enter the industry in decades, and signals a move toward a modernized and more efficient fleet.

US Seafoods acquired the ship and took ownership in Hawaii. She sailed to Seattle under her own power, and received a 45-foot extension to the stern, making room for a modern processing plant and ammonia-based refrigerated holds.

The work, accomplished on time in 18 months, was performed dockside by the company's own workforce as well as vendors and subcontractors, while drydocking and associated work was accomplished by Lake Union Drydock.

The ship was fitted with a 2,550-HP EMD 64S E7 diesel powerplant when new, and the engine is more than capable of powering the newly lengthened ship

The new vessel replaces a pair of the company's smaller boats.

"The smaller vessels are more expensive to maintain, and the processing spaces are more cramped and less efficient," says Matt Doherty, company president. "Also, with regulatory changes, a new boat made sense." Doherty says halibut bycatch is now returned to the sea immediately to increase survivability via chutes and a different deck layout. The America's larger size and more powerful engines also allow the vessel to better tow halibut excluders now necessary to protect the resource. Finally, Doherty says the increased flow through the new factory will allow the ship to stay out longer. "The more time we can spend on the grounds, the more efficient we are," he says. With the expanded processing plant and refrigerated holds, the Seafreeze America can stay out and fish the resource, burning less fuel and making better use of the crew's time.

Doherty notes that the upgraded processing plant also allows for a better yield. "By being able to design and build the plant from scratch, we were able to make use of modern techniques and machinery that weren't around in the 1980s when much of the Amendment 80 fleet was built."

Doherty is happy that the Seafreeze America started life as a Navy vessel. "I'm happy to give a Navy ship a second life," he says. "It allowed us to build more economically, and she has really good bones."

US Seafoods hopes to have the new Seafreeze America on the grounds and fishing later this month.


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