Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

Upgrades Continue at Alaska Fishing Ports


May 1, 2018

Hamilton Construction building the breakwater at the harbor at Seward, Alaska. Photo courtesy of the Harbormaster's office, Seward, Alaska.

From Southeast Alaska to Bristol Bay to Dutch Harbor the process of upgrading ports continues in 2018, in an effort to make these facilities more accommodating, efficient and safer for the multi-million-dollar seafood industry.

At the Port of Bristol Bay at Naknek, bracing for a strong run of the bay's famed wild sockeye salmon, port managers are busy working on the gravel surface to control dust and uplands improvements, and planning to have the entire port area fenced in from the highway to the river by the end of July, says Harbormaster Robert "Herk" McDermott.

The port has seen over $20 million in upgrades in its infrastructure over the past six to eight years, including demolition of some 200 feet of old steel pile surface dock space, and now has 400 feet of dock area. The port is also in discussion with Naknek Electric Association about burying power lines and bringing power and water to the South Naknek facilities as well.

The $40 million in upgrades at Dutch Harbor include replacement of dock positions three and four, with the remodeled third segment to be used for fishing vessel offloads and the Alaska Marine Highway System. That segment had been used by a host of fishing vessels and also as a fueling dock and for occasional minor repairs, but some of that activity has been shifted to the light cargo dock, said Port Director Peggy McLaughlin. The old creosote pile supported third position and eroding steel pile supported fourth position are being completely replaced with open face sheet pile.

The project, designed by PND Engineers, with Turnagain Marine as the contractor, is financed by port funds and a revenue bond, and is slated for completion by the end of September.

A long-term project underway at the Port of Cordova, with a 300-foot city dock just outside the entrance to the small boat harbor, includes replacement of some of the 30-foot finger floats, said Harbormaster Tony Schinella. The port has about 400 finger floats and plans are to replace at least 15 of those finger floats annually, he said.

Kodiak has completed $60 million in port projects over the past three years, including replacement of Pier 3, its container terminal, and Pier 1, the ferry terminal, plus the addition of a state-of-the-art container handler, a gantry crane that is all electric and more efficient at handling big containers, said Harbormaster Lon White.

Kodiak, which is now 100 percent on renewable energy from hydroelectric and wind turbines, generates the power to the port, and thousands of gallons of used oil collected at the port are filtered and burned in specially designed furnaces for port maintenance and public workshops for heat.

The Port of Kodiak has also replaced its channel transient float, designed for vessels not home ported there. At 300 feet long, it is designed for boats up to 130-feet long. Those vessels can be moored two deep, with six boats on the outboard side and on the inboard side, an additional eight boats up to 60 feet long, he said.

The Seward Marine Industrial Center at the Port of Seward has added a breakwater, widened its 330-ton Marine Travelift and pit, added 315 feet of moorage float, to be called the Fishermen's Float, and is in the process of repairing the north dock with a new fender piling system, under the watch of Harbormaster Norm Regis. A 10-foot crane and fencing is also being added to the north dock, to provide a secure port for offloading of fish. With the widening of the lift the port has been able to lift the likes of Dangerous Catch crab boats like Cape Caution, which weighs close to 290 tons, said Harbormaster Norm Regis.

"There's a lot of stuff going on," said Regis, with over $25 million in infrastructure upgrades. A meet and greet and ribbon cutting ceremony has been scheduled for April 21 for the SMIC relaunch.

State funds authorized by the Legislature several years ago paid for the project, now in its third year, as part of Seward's effort to lure more business. Vigor Alaska began operating the old Seward Shipyard in 2014 and the port is hoping to draw vessels from the Coastal Village Region Fund, an Alaska community development quota entity now storing and repairing vessels in Washington State, he said.

No major projects are underway at Homer this year, but that port has a contract out on maintenance of pilings that hold floats in place at the harbor, said Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins.

Homer also has a project in the works for a large vessel harbor, to the north of the exit of the harbor, for large vessels, he said. A study started with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2004 was shelved in 2009 and Homer officials are getting ready to go back and engage with the corps on the project.

The current Homer port is not dredged deep enough to accommodate larger vessels, like oil rig support vessels and tug escort vessels, Hawkins said. New facilities would allow for moving larger vessels out of the small boat harbor and good moorings at the large vessel harbor for tugs, freight vessels, and fish and wildlife vessels.

An aerial view of the 400 feet of new dock face servicing barges between several seafood facilities on the Naknek River. Photo by Rod Cyr for the Port of Bristol Bay.

"We haven't kept up in this state with building infrastructure," Hawkins said. "We have to build it as fast as we can, or they go elsewhere. Residents see the need and the value that something like this would bring."

At Sitka, in Southeast Alaska, Harbormaster Dave Borg said they are finishing up the second phase of their Aurora project, rebuilding float docks E, F and G, those three fingers have 17 slips and on the other side of the dock are covered private boat shelters, which can hold two boats each, phase 2 of the Aurora harbor project started last October and was due for major completion April 2. Sitka's Douglas harbor was dredged last year to minus 14 feet, with all of its floats replaced and the Statter and Harris harbors were rebuilt several

years ago.

The latest feather in the Sitka Harbor's cap has been certification in March into the Alaska Clean Harbors Program, he said.


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