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Lynden mariners keep waters and people safe

Posted on Fri, Sep 03, 2021

Greta crew long shotLynden's captains, engineers, mates and deck hands do more than just deliver freight via barge, landing craft and tugboat. These mariners are the eyes and ears on the waters they sail, often being called upon to assist in emergency situations and to report on marine conditions for other vessels.

Just last month on the Kuskokwim River, the Bering Marine crew of the landing craft Greta pulled a man to safety after he fell off a seawall, while the crews of the Arctic Bear and Padilla assisted U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hickory with safe navigation of the river channel.

According to Brandon Leary, Alaska Marine Trucking's Bethel Service Center Manager, "I was getting ready for bed and my wife, Alyssa, actually saw the man fall in the river. I ran down with a life ring that I keep on my deck, and I had my wife alert the crew on the Greta while I assisted the man in the water." The Greta crew responded with a Jacob's ladder boarding device, then contacted emergency crews who met the tug on shore and transported the man to a local hospital.

"The City of Bethel would like to extend thanks and appreciation to the Greta crew," says Bethel City Manager Peter Williams. Police Lieutenant Jesse Poole also expressed thanks for the quick actions of the crew, which includes Captain Mike Dawson, Engineer Clint Mathews, Mates Chris Benny and Fred Haag, and Deckhands Anthony Augusto and Manny Belarmino.

"Those of us who live and work on vessels must always be prepared to expect the unexpected," says Captain Jack Rasmussen, Bering Marine Vice President. "We routinely perform safety drills so our crews know how to act and what to possibly expect during an incident. These drills are a regulatory requirement but also essential to protect our crews and equipment. We are proud of the Greta crew for their lifesaving actions in a Man Overboard (MOB) situation."

Another Bering Marine vessel was on the same river providing crucial navigation information so the U.S. Coast Guard could mark the channel with seasonal buoys. This is a yearly task as the channel changes each year.

"The Arctic Bear tug was running the river as soon as the ice went out this year," explains Port Engineer Steve Isaacs. "The crew developed a good track line by using a skiff they launch off the tug, help from locals in the area, and from Captain David Curtis on Bering Marine's pilot boat Padilla."

When the USCGC Hickory arrived in June, the crew reached out to Captain Chuck Gaffney on the Arctic Bear. He provided track lines for the 2021 channel and the location of shoals and sandbars to mark with buoys for safe navigation. In addition to Captain Gaffney, crew members include Engineer Sean Brooks and Mates Joe Pirak and Dave Smith.

Hickory Captain and Commanding Officer Jeannette Greene reached out to the crew with a thank you for the yearly assistance. "I sincerely appreciate your help with river information, soundings and shoaling each year," she writes. The Hickory crew marked buoy 28 with a small bear in appreciation of the Arctic Bear and its crew.

Tags: Bering Marine Corporation, Lynden Employees, Safety, Alaska, Ocean

Just another day in the Bethel neighborhood

Posted on Wed, Feb 03, 2021

Pete Kaiser with teamLynden Air Cargo Captain Daryl Smith took this photo of Peter Kaiser as he was training his sled dog team. Daryl lives in Bethel, AK and saw Pete from his house. "I thought it would be newsworthy since he works for Lynden and is an Iditarod champion," Daryl says. Pete works for Knik Construction and Bering Marine. He won the Iditarod in 2019 and has won the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race multiple times. Pete has plans to compete in both the Kuskokwim 300 and Iditarod races again this year.

Tags: Bering Marine Corporation, Lynden Air Cargo, Lynden Employees, Knik Construction

Knik improves and maintains infrastructure in Alaska

Posted on Thu, Oct 08, 2020

Knik FlaggerSummer 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 Bethel Airport ProjectKnik 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.

Tags: Bering Marine Corporation, Alaska, Knik Construction, Construction, AML

Everyday Hero Profile:  Kenneth 'Took' Laraux

Posted on Wed, Jun 17, 2020

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment.

Introducing Took Laraux, Captain at Bering Marine in Bethel, Alaska.

Everyday Hero Kenneth Took LaRauxName: Kenneth 'Took' Laraux

Company: Bering Marine Corporation

Title: Captain

On the job since: 1997

Superpower: Reading the river

Hometown: Bethel, AK

Bucket List Destination: Anywhere where there are more animals than people

For Fun: Fishing and hunting

How did you start your career at Lynden?
My dad, Butch, owned United Transportation with some partners and delivered fuel and freight on the Kuskokwim River. In the mid-1980s Crowley bought the company. I ran my own barge for awhile, the Elsie-M. It is a 66-foot landing craft that my son Gux now owns. I started working for Bering Marine in 1997. I have worked for Bering Marine, the hovercraft operation, Knik, Alaska Marine Lines, Alaska Marine Trucking and other companies along the Kuskokwim River in Alaska and other places. My son, Gux, works for Bering Marine, too. He is in charge of the hovercraft operation.

What is a typical day like for you?
I go pretty much nonstop with the tug and barge from April to late October. In the winter season I help my son with the hovercraft. There are so many different things happening in the Kuskokwim area that I may be working on projects for Knik or other companies week to week. I am not just the captain on the Arctic Gull tug but am also the engineer and deckhand depending on what is needed at the time. I can operate cranes or other kinds of equipment if help is needed loading barges.

What has been most challenging in your career?
Weather and keeping equipment running. Also staying on time with marine schedules and dealing with tides, wind and the water level on the river.

What changes have you seen over the years, either in business, equipment, customers or technology? Better equipment that makes it less likely to break down or need as much maintenance.

What project are you most proud of?
I have been told that I have hauled more aggregate (rock) down the Kuskokwim River to Bethel and other Knik job locations than any other vessel captain. I am pretty good at navigating uncharted water on the river. I can repair equipment if needed and get it back up and running so there is no lost time at a job site. I try to think of the most efficient way of getting a job done. I like to get the assignment, talk about options and then get it done ahead of schedule.

Can you tell us about your growing up years?
I was born in Bethel. I have five brothers and sisters. My wife and I have three sons and two daughters. I did some commercial fishing on the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers starting in the 1970s and also some trapping over the years.

What would surprise most people about you?
I got my nickname of 'Took' by riding on tugboats with my father. The motor made a 'took, took' sound and I would make that sound as a little boy. It stuck and now I am known more by Took than my given name of Kenneth.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
I fish for salmon and hunt for moose and caribou. Every winter I go into the woods and cut firewood to give to elders in the community of Bethel and surrounding villages on the coast. I also hunt for them so they have food during the winter months, usually caribou. I have a lot of snow machines and sometimes make sleds to tow behind them. Spend some time woodworking, too.

Tags: Bering Marine Corporation, Lynden Employees, Everyday Heroes

Lynden's Hovercraft teams provide essential services in Alaska

Posted on Fri, Aug 30, 2019

Bering Marine HovercraftImagine working 46 days each year in zero visibility. Now imagine being responsible for safely transporting people and freight in these conditions. For the professional mariners working on Lynden's Bering Marine hovercraft team, it's all part of the job. Five times each day, they load up the AP-188 hovercraft with 60 ENI Petroleum employees and safely transport them roundtrip from Prudhoe Bay to Spy Island, a drill site near Oliktok Point, AK. Six Bering Marine captains and deck hands support the project which also includes hauling freight for ENI and operating as a medivac standby vessel.

"Our ENI partnership is a highly successful operation," says Port Engineer Steve Isaacs. "Over the past decade we've made over 5,000 trips to the Spy Island drill site, carrying over 50,000 passengers and over 20 million pounds of freight. We've been able to prove the value and reliability of this type of vessel in this environment. It's hard to compete with a machine like our hovercrafts".

Hovercraft freightWhile the North Slope crew is hard at work in Prudhoe Bay, another three members of the hovercraft team are in Bethel delivering mail and essential freight to remote villages in the western part of Alaska. This service, which began in the 1990s, provides delivery to villages on the Kuskokwim River throughout the year. The winding river presents its own challenges with traffic from snow machines in the winter and boats in the summer.

Captain Paul "Duke" Bischoff spent 15 years in the Navy's hovercraft program before joining Lynden. "I really enjoy operating this type of craft because of the special challenges while maneuvering over land and ice, as well as the frequent high-wind situations we get in the arctic," he says. "Combined with the changing conditions at our landing site during the ice formation and breakup, you have an operation that definitely keeps you on your toes."

From September to February, the six members of the hovercraft team are the only mariners on the entire North Slope. "No other merchant marine works in the arctic that time of year," Steve explains. "Our hovercraft team serves as the medivac and lifeline for emergency situations in subzero temperatures."

A few years ago, the team started a spring cleanup program, using the unique capabilities of the hovercraft to pick up ice road debris during breakup. "Our hovercraft is the only vessel that can reach these areas during the spring thaw. We are doing our part to keep the arctic clean," Steve says.

Tags: Bering Marine Corporation, Green Lynden, Lynden Employees, Alaska, Specialized

Pete Kaiser makes history with Kuskokwim 300 win

Posted on Wed, Feb 28, 2018

Pete Kaiser wins 4th Kuskokwim 300.jpgKnik Construction's Pete Kaiser won his fourth consecutive Kuskokwim 300 title Jan. 21 in Bethel, AK. Joar Leifseth Ulsom arrived in second place with Jeff King following in third. With the victory, Pete did what no other musher has done in 39 years. While Jeff King has won three straight races on two occasions, Pete's four straight Kuskokwim victories earn him a spot in the history books.  He also eclipses Mitch Seavey on the career victories list, trailing only Jeff King.

This year's race took a new route. Teams faced rough ice over winding tundra trails, frozen creeks and wide open lakes. According to Pete, it was a struggle to get traction on the 140-mile route.

"When it's icy, the dogs have to focus so much more on each step," he says. "It's mentally taxing and entirely different from a snow-covered trail where they can zone out and move along at an easy clip. Overall it was a challenging race for them and for me."

Pete and his team are sponsored by Knik Construction and Bering Marine Corporation each year. For the first time in six years, Pete trained in Bethel. The region finally received enough snow to support the demanding regimen Pete and his dogs go through each year to prepare for the Kuskokwim race and the annual Iditarod. It's also where Pete lives and works.

"We live out here and train out here, so we're a little more comfortable than most with the Kusko, but it was still one of the toughest, if not the toughest, races I've ever done," he says.

Pete is now focused on preparing for the Iditarod which begins March 3 in Anchorage.

Tags: Bering Marine Corporation, Lynden Employees, Alaska, Knik Construction, Community

Three-Pete Kaiser wins Kusko 300

Posted on Wed, Feb 15, 2017

Pete Kaiser 2017 Iditarod c-u - Copy.jpgLynden’s Peter Kaiser made it a "3-Pete" win in the 2017 Kusko 300 in February and placed in the top 10 in this year’s Iditarod in March. Pete, who has worked for Bering Marine Corporation and now Knik Construction in Bethel, AK for 10 years, won the Kusko 300 for the third consecutive year, beating his 2016 time by almost 30 minutes. Pete and his 9 dogs crossed the 300 finish line with a time of 40 hours, 7 minutes and 54 seconds.

In his eighth outing as an Iditarod competitor, Pete placed ninth in the fastest-ever Iditarod. First-place finisher Mitch Seavey crushed the Iditarod speed record, finishing in 8 days, 3 hours and 40 minutes. The previous record, set last year by Seavey’s 30-year-old son, Dallas, was 8 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes.

This year, mushers traveled an unusual route that started in Fairbanks, rather than Willow, due to low snow on key stretches of the trail. The 2017 Iditarod is officially 979 miles, although that includes 11 mile sat the ceremonial start from Downtown Anchorage to Campbell Airstrip.

Bering Marine Corporation and Knik Construction support Pete and Kaiser Kennels each year. "Pete is not only a great employee for our companies, but his passion and dedication in his work shows in his mushing as well. We are proud of his accomplishments and look forward to more races next year," says Dan Hall, Knik Construction Vice President.

"I am grateful for Lynden’s ongoing support," Pete says. "Our success is dependent on our sponsors and the flexibility of my employer. This year you had to have a flawless race to keep up with the fast teams. I had a few sick dogs with injuries along the way but, as always, I’m just happy to be competing."

Tags: Bering Marine Corporation, Lynden Employees, Knik Construction, Community

New marine safety system launched

Posted on Wed, May 25, 2016

Safety_Management_System_training.jpgExecutive management from Naknek Barge Lines, Bering Marine Corporation and Alaska Marine Lines met in Seattle earlier this year for the first training session to launch the joint Marine Safety Management System (SMS).  They were joined by Jim Maltby, Lynden Director of HSSE, and Rheagan Sparks, Lynden’s Marine Risk Manager.  Their objective: to educate participants about the internal audit processes within the SMS and to prepare them to conduct field audits aboard Lynden vessels during the 2016 operating season.

The first day of the training, led by Lynden Consultant Dione Lee of QSE Solutions, consisted of classroom learning and goal identification.  Participants took their newfound skills into the field on day two by conducting mock vessel audits aboard the Naknek tugboats Crosspoint and Polar Wind (see photo).  The group took turns in the roles of auditor and crew.

 Implementation of a formal Safety Management System is a growing trend in the maritime industry, according to Rheagan. “Since the acquisition of Northland Services in 2013, the three primary Lynden maritime companies have been working to consolidate their pre-existing procedures into a more coordinated format,” she says. “The SMS allows the companies to standardize and document their procedures.  This is part of a continually evolving process of improvement that reduces the likelihood of accidents and promotes a culture of safety.”  The new SMS system is endorsed by Lynden’s maritime liability insurer, Steamship Mutual P&I Club, positioning Lynden as an elite operator within the maritime industry.

 Captains from Naknek, Bering Marine and Western Towboat Company gave positive feedback about the January training.  “The SMS manual mostly reflects what we already do, but now it’s documented and accessible for everyone,” says Tim Kinkopf, Naknek General Manager. Future training sessions for vessel crews are scheduled later this year.

Tags: Bering Marine Corporation, Safety, Ocean, AML

Git along, little… caribou?

Posted on Thu, Jun 13, 2013

Hovercraft with caribou

Here's something you don't see every day! Lynden’s hovercraft almost looks like it’s moving along with the migrating caribou in this photo. According to Bering Marine Vice President and Captain Jack Rasmussen, the shot was taken this past winter at the hovercraft storage area near Oliktok Point, AK, about 40 miles west of Deadhorse.

Tags: Bering Marine Corporation, Alaska, Specialized

Lynden is proud to sponsor mushers in the 2013 Iditarod!

Posted on Sat, Mar 02, 2013

The 2013 Iditarod - the “Last Great Race on Earth” - officially starts today, March 2nd. Lynden is proud to be a sponsor of two of this year's racers, Pete Kaiser and Mike Williams. Pete is an employee of Bering Marine Corporation, part of the Lynden family of companies, and will be racing for the 4th time. He finished in the Top 10 in both 2012 and 2011. Mike is also sponsored by Lynden, mushing in the Iditarod for the 15th time. He was born and raised in Alaska, and has a son (Mike Williams, Jr.) who will also be competing in this year's race.

Pete and his dogs
Pete and his dogs

The Iditarod race, the ultimate test against nature, winds over 1,150 miles of difficult terrain throughout rough weather conditions. Mushers will start in Anchorage and ultimately finish in Nome, Alaska. The race typically takes 9-15 days for mushers to finish.

Lynden employees are familiar faces at Alaska sled dog races, volunteering for things such as race announcing, caring for dog teams, and lending other support. You can learn more about the Iditarod and follow along with this year's race by visiting the official website: www.iditarod.com.

Tags: Bering Marine Corporation, Lynden, Lynden Employees, Alaska, Community