Summer months are the busy season for Knik Construction and, this year, crews wrapped up two projects in Bethel, AK. The Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway and the Bethel Parallel Runway Airport projects.
The Knik team worked hard repairing Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway at the request of the Alaska Department of Transportation. Roads take a beating in Alaska with freeze and thaw cycles creating potholes and crumbled asphalt erosion. Improvements to the Bethel highway included work on corners, shoulders and the installation of six inches of foamed asphalt with another four inches of asphalt on top. Knik has also installed culverts and added topsoil and hydro-seeding.
"Our work to improve roads and airports is very important to the Alaska economy and the health and safety of Alaska residents. These projects keep communities connected and maintain and protect the routes necessary to deliver essential goods," says Knik President Dan Hall. "We are entrusted with vital infrastructure projects and our employees take this responsibility seriously. We make every effort to hire as many local people as possible and finish our projects on time and within budget." Pictured above, Knik Flagger Wilson Green directed drivers to the work site in Bethel. Wilson is a local Bethel resident hired to work on the Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway project.
Knik also continued a long-term project to install a parallel runway and three taxiways at the Bethel Airport (pictured right). The project was split into three phases. Crews were most recently working on Phase III which called for expanding the primary runway safety area to a width of 500 feet along its entire 8,400-foot length.
A secondary runway embankment was constructed with a 4,600-foot by 150-foot runway safety area. Crews developed two material sites on airport property to supply the work. Over 1,000,000 cubic yards of sandy-silt material was excavated and hauled from these two sources. In prior phases, Knik installed a new standby generator module, electrical service, new runway lighting and underground fuel storage tank de-commissioning among other improvements.
As a general heavy construction company, Knik specializes in complex, logistically challenging projects in hard-to-reach places like remote bush Alaska, Guantanamo Bay, Wake Island and Midway Island. Knik crews work seasonally depending on the work which may mean moving materials via waterways in summer and constructing ice roads in the winter.
In addition to construction projects, each year Knik processes over 100,000 tons of gravel, rock, sand and other aggregate at its Platinum Pit and Quarry in Bethel. Gravel is shipped to remote sites in Western Alaska and other parts of the world by sister companies Bering Marine and Alaska Marine Lines.
Welcome to Lynden News!
Summer months are the busy season for Knik Construction and, this year, crews wrapped up two projects in Bethel, AK. The Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway and the Bethel Parallel Runway Airport projects.
Four Alaska Marine Lines rail barges are getting new piping and ballast systems designed by marine industry leader Glosten with installation by Meridian Marine Industries. "The rail barges are hitting 20 years of service and were in need of some upgrades," explains John Maketa, T-115 Port Engineer in Seattle. "These barges are the backbone of our rail operations and Central Alaska service. The updates will prepare them for another 20 years of service."
Two barges, the Anchorage Provider and Whittier Provider, already have the new piping systems installed. The Fairbanks Provider is scheduled for updates in August and the Nana Provider sometime next year. Using a patented rack system, the rail barges transport containers and rail cars from Seattle to Whittier, AK where the rail cars are rolled onto the train tracks.
The ballast systems are a network of valves, pipes and pumps below deck on all Alaska Marine Lines rail barges. The tanks are filled with fresh water to trim the barge before sailing. With six 1,200-ton ballast tanks on each barge, a total weight of 2,400 tons of water is moved between tanks to trim the barge for efficient towing.
Each rail barge is receiving the following services and updates:
- New ballast system, including all valves and actuators. An actuator is an attached electrical motor that allows the valves to be operated and monitored remotely. The operations crews can operate the system from on deck without going into the pump room.
- System modifications to add ballast water treatment systems in the future.
- New wave wall doors to protect the generator.
- Rebuilt valves in the spill containment system with modifications that will allow inspection and repair in the future.
- Removal of excessive hull paint built up by 20 years of paint jobs. Pictured right, a robot removes old paint from the hull of the Anchorage Provider at SeaSpan Drydock in Vancouver, B.C.
- Removal of generators for complete inspections and replacement of worn parts.
- Fuel tanks cleaned and refurbished.
- Complete recoating of all ballast tanks.
"John has done a great job coordinating these updates, including planning, vendor selection, material logistics and scheduling with operations for maintenance windows to work on the four barges," says Marine Maintenance Manager David Byrne. "We are known for our exceptionally well-maintained and reliable equipment and these upgrades and renovations allow us to maintain that reputation with our customers."
Alaska Marine Lines celebrates its 40th anniversary this year! That is 40 years we've been privileged to serve our amazing customers and local communities, 40 years side-by-side with the most wonderful, hard-working people in the barge industry and 40 years of experience fine tuning our service and reach to offer the largest fleet of equipment in Alaska.
In 1980, Lynden acquired the assets of Southeast Barge Lines from Western Towboat, Trucano Construction and Jim Harper and Southeast Alaska Barge Lines was established. "This began the long and productive partnership between Lynden and Western Towboat that we still enjoy today," explains Alaska Marine Lines President Kevin Anderson.
Two years later, Southeast Alaska Barge Lines was renamed Alaska Marine Lines. In 1985, as Foss Alaska Lines withdrew from Southeast service and Pacific Western Lines curtailed its service, Alaska Marine Lines purchased selected assets from those barge carriers and added many employees who are still with the Lynden companies today including Executive Vice President Alex McKallor. Also that year, service partner Arrowhead Transfer headed by Gordie Harang began providing services to Alaska Marine Lines in Southeast Alaska.
Pictured to the right, Alaska Marine Lines Presidents over the years include, from left: Bill Troy, Alex McKallor, Gail Knapp and current President Kevin Anderson.
Looking back, Kevin says some of the biggest changes have been in equipment. "We've gone from 20' containers to 40's, then 48's and now 53's, and forklifts with a capacity of 55,000 pounds that can now lift 120,000 pounds," he says. "The first barge was 130 feet long with a 1,000-HP tug. Today we have 420-foot barges towed by tugs with 5,000-HP."
In 2019, Alaska Marine Lines expanded its service area to include Arctic villages like Kaktovik to better serve customers statewide and this year has expanded its fleet with the purchase of two cargo barges.
"As we celebrate four decades of business I'd like to honor the dedicated and talented employees, past and present, who have contributed to our success," Kevin says. "We now service every major coastal region in Alaska. I look forward to seeing what the new decade will bring."
Tags: Alaska Marine Lines
Every fishing season, Alaska Marine Lines refrigeration mechanics (reefer techs) leave Seattle and make the journey north to keep Lynden's refrigerated containers (reefers) in top shape. The techs fly to Alaska and then accompany the loaded reefers on the southbound barges. These ride-along-with-the-reefer trips have been taking place for years, but the voyage of the reefer technician has not been well known. Until now.
Mechanic Greg Restad was so impressed with his off-site assignment that he decided to document his experience. Greg's notes provide a unique look behind the scenes of this annual effort to protect customers' fish and other refrigerated freight and maintain Lynden's equipment. It should be noted that Greg has 30 years of experience working on refrigerated equipment including working for Les Candee and Art Burg at Foss Maritime in the early 1980s.
According to Assistant Maintenance and Repair Manager Steve Tafoya, mechanics check around 3,000 reefers each year during the north-to-south trips. Most reefers last around 20 years, but with excellent care, they can last longer.
"We run a pre-trip inspection anytime a reefer enters the yard so we keep close tabs on all equipment and any emerging problems," Steve says. "It could be power, a leak, burnout of the evaporator motor or something else. The most common issue with reefers is a lack of communication with the tug. Our mechanics also check and service generator sets, make sure gear vans are stocked and that the GRASP reefer monitoring system, all plugs and time share panels are working," Steve explains. Everything is documented and becomes part of the service record.
Mechanics sleep on the tug when the barge is under way or in bunkhouses in Naknek, Dillingham and St. Paul. Meals are eagerly anticipated as the tug cooks are known for their gourmet cooking. "Naknek has a great bunch of guys and good accommodations," Greg says. "They made me feel welcome and fed me well. It's nice when I get a couple days to check out the yard and my units before loading because once they start loading, these guys move. Everyone pitches in to get us in and out of port. I never heard 'It's not my job' even when I had a container I couldn't fix that was located in the middle of the stack. They had to bring in a barge alongside and crane it out of the middle of my barge. 'It's no one's fault; it can't be helped; let's get it done' was their response."
It's not always smooth sailing. Sometimes parts have to be flown in to repair a reefer or an employee needs medical care. One tech was suffering from an abscessed tooth and had to come back to Seattle, so he traded places with the next tech on the list.
And then there are rough seas. On Greg's first outing in Naknek, he was worried when he heard about 16-foot seas on the voyage. "The 70-knot gusts almost knocked me off my feet in the yard, and then they told me we were going to leave," he says. "Thankfully, Captain Eric kept the wind behind us, charted sheltered waters and, by the time we got into the Gulf, the seas had calmed down to 10 feet. The crews were always great. They were polite and forgiving when I wasn't familiar with the program and ran me though the safety procedures and orientation. It was fun to see how fast I could don a survival suit."
Although the reefer techs are away from home for long periods, they are treated to delicious meals like prime rib and salmon prepared by the tug cooks. The views are pretty good, too. Eagles, whales, sharks and porpoises all share air and sea space with the barges and tugs in the North Pacific. For many reefer techs, it's a nice change of scenery from working in the Seattle yard.
"These techs are on the front line making sure our reefers are keeping the fish cold and the perishables fresh," Steve says. "They spend months away from home, family and friends to uphold the Lynden brand of service. We all appreciate the work they do."
Alaska Marine Lines (dba Aloha Marine Lines in Hawaii) expanded its fleet with the purchase of two cargo barges, the Kamakani and Namakani, from Oregon based Sause Bros. Sause terminated its Hawaii service in March and Alaska Marine Lines is now serving its customers.
The Kamakani (above) and the Namakani are now the largest of all Alaska Marine Lines vessels – each with a 438-foot overall length and 105 feet of width and a payload of 16,869 tons. "For comparison, our railbarges are 420 feet long and 100 feet wide with a payload of 15,300 tons," explains Tom Crescenzi, Seattle Service Center Manager. The Kamakani was constructed by Gunderson Marine in 2008 and the Namakani in 2016. Both are fitted with 22-foot-high cargo binwalls and an internal ballast system.
"While the initial sailing of the Kamakani on April 18 was definitely the heaviest Hawaii single barge sailing to depart from Terminal 115 in Seattle, she also had the least amount of lashing," Tom says. "Between the walls and the rod lashings we dropped close to 90 percent of the lashing compared to a regular Hawaiian sailing. We still have a number of things to learn and improve on, but Hawaii Barge Master Brad Hughes did a great job on the first round. Everyone has put in a lot of work and, considering the size of this sailing and the short time we've had to handle the switch-over from Sause, everyone really stepped up."
In addition, Aloha Marine Lines moved from Pier 29 in Honolulu to the old Sause Bros. location at Pier 5 Kalaeloa – Barber's Point in Kapolei, HI. "Our new location is much closer to our high-volume customers in the industrial park area of Kapolei which will offer more delivery efficiencies to our Hawaii customers," says Jake Maenpa, Vice President Sales.
Alaska Marine Lines launched a Stay 6', Stay Safe campaign and contest to encourage social distancing among onsite employees in Seattle, Alaska and Hawaii, according to Bridgette Bell, Director of Human Resources.
The contest ran for a few months and employees submitted ways they were staying safe while at work as well as at home to be entered into the weekly drawing. The employee whose name was drawn won a gift card to a local restaurant in an effort to support local businesses who are also feeling the effects of the pandemic.
Some of the employee led social distancing ideas included employees eating lunch outside or in their car instead of the lunchroom and taping a 6 foot line on the floor in offices. One manager even created a 6 foot safety stick as a tool to give employees a sense of how far away 6 feet actually is.
Even though the contest is no longer running employees are still supporting each other by maintaining social distancing guidelines. Pictured above are employees at the Yard 1 Diesel Shop in Seattle. "We are all in this together, just 6 feet apart," Bridgette says.
Lynden companies showed their support to local organizations this winter in Alaska and California. Alaska Marine Lines Account Managers, Mike Morris (above, far left) and Don Hansen (above, far right), pose with the Bristol Bay Angels basketball teams at the Alaska Marine Lines Sockeye Classic in Naknek, AK. Alaska Marine Lines is the primary sponsor for the tournament, which rotates between Naknek and Dillingham each year.
Members of Lynden International's Los Angeles team gave back to the community at the Genesis Invitation Golf Tournament. Lynden team members, Cora Fong-Congelliere (right), Kelly Sayles and Stuart Nakayama served beverages at the tournament with all proceeds supporting Breast Cancer Angels. The Angels program provides financial and emotional assistance to breast cancer patients and families as they undergo treatment.
Construction is under way for a new hydropower facility in Kake, AK and Alaska Marine Lines is supporting the project by transporting penstock pipe and other materials. Local electrical utility Inside Passage Electric Cooperative (IPEC) is building the facility at an old hatchery near town. The plant will allow the community of 630 people to move from diesel power and generators to a cheaper, cleaner and more efficient power source. It's estimated that the new plant will save 2 million pounds of CO2 per year. According to Arrowhead Transfer Operations Manager Adam Davis, the first shipment of pipe was delivered last summer, but the project has been in the works for more than a year. "We started working on the project in 2018 with contractor Rock N Road," he says. "We've already handled 60 loads of concrete and aggregate weighing between 20,000 to 66,000 pounds each to build pillars, thrust block and other features." Many of the deliveries tested Adam's driving skills as they required backing a fully loaded 40-foot trailer down a long, one-lane driveway. The trailer was too wide for the narrow bridge so the excavator was used to unload the pipe at the job site.
IPEC is scheduled to finish the $10 million project this year. Pictured above, 54-inch penstock pipe is stacked for delivery at the Alaska Marine Lines yard in Kake.
We would like to recognize the following Lynden employees who retired this past year. We are grateful for their service and contributions to Lynden, and we wish them well on their new adventures!
Steve McQueary – Brown Line, 40 years
Steve (photo to the right) started working for Brown Line in 1979 with a short break in between to serve as an expert for U.S. Customs in the ACE Truck Manifest Program. In his 40-year career, he has been a driver, dock manager, dispatcher, general and sales manager. "As we are a small company, I also assisted in accounts payables, loaded trucks, received freight, handled insurance, cleaned the kitchen and did whatever needed to be done. I have also assisted other Lynden companies with FDA compliance," he says.
In the 1970s, truckloads of frozen salmon were packed in 100-pound boxes, halibut was shipped loose on the floor stacked like cord wood and full loads of King Crab sections were common. "I haven't seen a truckload of 100-pound salmon boxes shipped in years, it is now illegal to ship halibut on the floor, and the halibut quotas have decreased by 80 percent from what they were in the 70s," Steve says. "The value of King Crab makes it difficult for most buyers to buy a truckload."
Other changes Steve has seen in his career: freight ships on pallets and all trucks have a pallet jack. "In the 70s, everything we hauled was floor loaded and we used hand trucks. Paper log books were used for hours, drivers were more independent as there were no cell phones, and it was at their discretion to call in, much to the chagrin of the dispatchers. That world no longer exists with cell phones, satellite tracking, electronic logs and truck sensors."
Steve's most memorable project involved Trident Seafoods. "One of their overseas plants had run out of product and shut down," he recalls. "Sixty loads were sitting south of Seattle that needed to be shipped to Bellingham in a 3-day period. I had no clue on how we would cover it, but said that we would. Trident had turned around a vessel that was already at sea to return to Bellingham to pick this product up. We worked with other Lynden companies, using as many rigs as possible and saved Trident money by reducing the number of truckloads and delivering it all on time. This was a great "One Lynden" example. I took pride that Trident trusted me to get it done and that, at Lynden, nothing can stop us."
Retirement will bring home and woodworking projects, fishing, camping, golfing and touring the country with his wife in their Mustang convertible. "It's been a great career," Steve says. "I've made a lot of friends and enjoyed being a part of the Lynden family."
Cherri Webby – Lynden Transport, 32 years
Cherri (photo to the right) started her career in 1987 as a Customer Service Representative in Ketchikan. "We worked for Arrowhead Transfer and were agents for Lynden Transport and Alaska Marine Lines. Lynden Transport used the highway to Prince Rupert, then the Alaska Marine Highway system to deliver freight in Southeast Alaska," she says. "Alaska Marine Lines had one weekly barge that serviced Southeast." In 2002, Cherri moved to Seattle and went to work for Alaska Marine Lines as a customer service representative, later becoming the manager of the department. Three years later, she went to work for Lynden Transport as Director of Customer Service.
"The biggest change I have seen in my career is the streamlining of our processes to move freight," she says. "From receiving the shipment, to moving the shipment from the dock to the trailer, to the customer, it has become much more efficient." Cherri's retirement plans include travel and family time.
Gary Schmahl – Lynden Air Cargo, 22 years
Gary (photo to the right) began his career as an inspector with Lynden Air Cargo in 1997. He moved into Quality Control as a manager of scheduled maintenance and ended his career as a project manager. He has watched the company expand from two leased Electras to 10 L382 Hercules aircraft.
"My best memory is bringing six foreign aircraft onto the U.S. registry from 2005 to 2019," he says. "I have been the Quality Control Representative for over 130 B Checks and C Checks since 1999 in Singapore, the U.K., Canada and elsewhere." A B Check is a two-week maintenance and service check, and a C Check is a six-week heavy inspection and maintenance check," he says.
Gary's retirement plans include outdoor sports and traveling. He has a winter home in the Ozark Mountains for fishing and a home in Anchorage to enjoy the Alaska summers. "I would like to thank Lynden and all its good people and leadership for the past 22 years," he says. "There has been a lot of travel (1.5 million miles on Delta alone) and plenty of new experiences around the world. I had a lot of responsibility and all the tools to handle the tasks plus the appreciation for a job well done."
Paul Willing – Lynden Air Cargo, 20 years
Paul Willing (photo to the right) has been part of Lynden Air Cargo for almost 21 years, first as Director of Quality Control from 1999 to 2007 and then as Vice President of Maintenance from 2007 to 2019. In that time, he watched the company grow from an Alaskan operation to a worldwide company. "I really enjoyed the aircraft acquisitions over the years in Singapore, France and South Africa," Paul says, "and working with the dedicated and talented professionals at Lynden Air Cargo." His most memorable project was starting an airline in Papua New Guinea. Paul will start the new decade and his retirement with winter travel and spending more time sailing. "I would like to thank Lynden for the challenges and opportunities," he says.
Bob Weeks – Lynden Inc., 16 years
Bob has played an important part behind the scenes at Lynden for the past 16 years. Starting as a CPA in the Tax Department, he worked on corporate tax returns and conducted internal audits of operating companies for compliance and other issues.
The audits sometimes took months and Bob enjoyed getting to know each company's processes and talking to the people. "Alaska Marine Lines probably has the most assets in the most places of any Lynden company. Keeping track of every piece of equipment is a challenge," he says. "At the end of one particular audit, they were able to locate every asset, down to one last container at the bottom of a stack during their busy fish season."
Looking back, Bob's biggest challenge was learning the foreign tax laws necessary for setting up Lynden's new companies in Papua New Guinea and Ghana, Africa.
Retirement will bring motorhome trips with his wife, Rena, to Arizona and national parks in Utah. "I will enjoy not waking up at 5:01 a.m. every morning," he says, "but Lynden was a great company to work for."
Oksana Begej – Alaska Marine Lines, 38 years
Fish Queen. That is one of the titles Alaska Marine Lines Human Resources Director Oksana Begej listed when asked for her career information. After 38 years, she is entitled to a little fun. Oksana started her career back in 1982 when multipage invoices were typed on electric typewriters. "We went through a lot of whiteout!" she says.
Starting as Office Manager in Seattle, she moved into customer service, dispatch and finally human resources. "My best memories are the fabulous people I have worked with," she says, "and my favorite project would be skeleton entry where we didn't have to dig through piles of bills of lading to see if a shipment was received. That was a total game changer for us and our customers at the time."
Now that she is retired, Oksana plans to enjoy more time with her husband. "Alaska Marine Lines and Lynden are amazing and have provided a wonderful career for me and benefits for my family."
Pictured above retirees Bob Weeks, Oksana Begej and Eric Linde
Eric Linde – Alaska Marine Lines, 24 years
Eric Linde has worked in various areas at Alaska Marine Lines during his 24 years, mostly providing leadership and management of Service Centers or Maintenance and Repair (M&R).
One of his best career memories was the Ketchikan Bypass. "We had 100 custom 20-foot containers made that could carry 100K pounds of bulk cement and other bulk products. A new forklift design was required with a lifting capacity of more than 100,000 pounds. We built and assembled transfer system conveyors and bag houses along with a tipper system that assisted in the transfer of bulk cement products from the containers to trailers on the Ketchikan end. It was a BIG job," he remembers.
Eric also commented on the changes in containers over the years. "I watched containers get bigger and heavier – from standard gauge to 10' high and 102" wide with increased gross weights. We had to increase the forklift size and carrying capacity and ability to stack them higher. Then we had new barges built to carry the larger containers and handle the increase in freight volumes. It's been amazing to see and be part of Lynden's futuristic ideas that have become the norm here at Alaska Marine Lines," he says.
Selah, WA is where Eric and his wife have decided to spend their retirement years. Their home is on acreage with a shop for Eric to enjoy his hobby of restoring antique farm tractors and agriculture equipment. "I am an avid snow and water skier, so I hope to spend more time in those activities now. We also have plans to continue to travel and see our National Parks that we have not been to yet. It's been an amazing career at Alaska Marine Lines. Thank you for the opportunity to meet and work with so many great people. I feel blessed to have been a small part of it."
Bill Merk – Alaska Marine Trucking, 28 years
Bill (photo to the right) has been a 'jack of all trades' serving as a warehouseman, driver, customer service representative, warehouse lead, barge and yard freight operator, and, most recently, Human Resources Coordinator and HSSE Manager for the Juneau office during a career at Arrowhead Transfer from 1991 to 1997 and Alaska Marine Trucking from 1997 to 2019.
"The biggest changes I have seen in almost three decades is the ongoing development of freight managing processes and the increase in opportunities for employees to grow within the Lynden family of companies," Bill says. "I am most proud of the success of Alaska Marine Trucking's continuing safety improvements."
Bill's retirement plans include spending time with family in Portland, OR and completing his second collection of poetry. He also plans to travel and rediscover the deserts and mountains of the American Southwest. "It has been a pleasure working for a company that takes such good care of its employees; I couldn't imagine working anywhere else," he says.
Paula Daggett - Alaska Marine Trucking, 28 years
Paula Daggett (photo to the right) retired from Alaska Marine Trucking in September after 28 years as a Customer Service Representative in Ketchikan. She is pictured with other members of the Lynden team at her retirement celebration. From left: Dan Kelly, Paula, Adam Anderson, Paul Haavig, Alaska Marine Lines President Kevin Anderson and Executive Vice President Alex McKallor.
Senior Aircraft Records Specialist Pat Logan and Director of Quality Control Jeff Pull also retired from Lynden Air Cargo in December with 18 and 17 years of service respectively.
The 2019 Together Tree, an 18-foot Sitka Spruce harvested from Revillagigedo Island in Ketchikan, was transported to Juneau by Alaska Marine Lines and displayed during the Alaska Governor's holiday open house. The tree celebrates the special relationships between the U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Native peoples, the state and rural Alaska communities. Pictured from left, Ketchikan Warehouse Lead Brian Anthony, Yard Supervisor Keith Nelson and Richard Finger load the tree into a container for transport.