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Alaska Marine Lines increases capacity with 600 new containers

Posted on Wed, Aug 11, 2021

blog pictureThis spring, the M/V Saga Welco Indiana departed the port of Qingdao, China, with 600 new refrigerated shipping containers on their way to be put into service at Alaska Marine Lines. These units are the latest addition to Alaska Marine Lines' fleet of nearly 29,000 shipping containers, flats and tanks. While they will primarily be used for transporting seafood products from Alaska, they will also carry all types of temperature controlled products.

"The story of how the containers made their way into service with AML is noteworthy," says Purchasing Manager Jay Marchand. Eastbound global steamship space was in short supply and prices were rising. Alaska Marine Lines collaborated with Lynden Logistics to export the containers from China and charter a ship to bring them east. Lead by International Manager Elodie Gergov, the Lynden Logistics team worked on the release from Chinese customs while Jay and AML's Steve Hardin worked with the container factory on specifications, pricing, inspections and production schedule.

With five days to go before the containers were scheduled to be loaded onto the ship, everything was on track for departure. But, at the eleventh hour, the Lynden team identified an unforeseen gap in port documentation and port release fees. On Friday afternoon of a Chinese holiday week, Lynden's local agent was asked to help clarify the issues. "By being there in person and having local contacts, the agent was able to act on behalf of both Lynden companies and clear the way for the containers to be delivered to the port," Jay says. "The ship successfully departed with all 600 containers and arrived in Dutch Harbor 10 days later."

The next challenge came at the offloading in Dutch Harbor. Alaska Marine Lines contracted with a company to perform the stevedoring using local labor. Due to a high demand of labor and a shortage of workers between fish seasons, only 50 percent of that labor was available, and the delays were counting against AML's contracted detention time. With the threat of the ship being detained another week before it could finish unloading, AML sought the assistance of Alaska Marine Trucking equipment operators, Bering Marine tugboat crews, and local AML Dutch Harbor operations employees to help unload the ship using the ship's gantry cranes. Once the ship was anchored in the bay, two AML barges were brought alongside the M/V Indiana and the Lynden team unloaded directly onto the barge decks.

"While the container purchase had many unexpected challenges, it was the access to logistics professionals and their perseverance that allowed the project to succeed," Jay says. As Elodie put it, "The world of international shipping is very unpredictable, but we never give up and always do our best."

Tags: Seafood, Alaska, Lynden Logistics, Grocery Chill and Frozen, Temperature-Controlled, Ocean, AML

North to Alaska, South by Barge: Voyage of a Reefer Tech

Posted on Mon, Jun 29, 2020

AML reefer techs in SeattleEvery 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."

Tags: Green Lynden, Seafood, Lynden Employees, Alaska, Grocery Chill and Frozen, Temperature-Controlled, Ocean, AML

Sea urchins to Kombucha, Brown Line carries cool freight

Posted on Fri, May 29, 2020

Brown Line employee loading a truckBrown Line's 'bread and butter' is the I-5 corridor from Washington to California. Four days a week drivers make the trip hauling fresh and frozen fish, chicken and other refrigerated products up and down the coast.

"We also haul some lesser-known types of freight, like sea urchin and Kombucha," explains Riley Rosvold, Brown Lines Sales Manager. The round, spiky creatures are harvested for the eggs inside, called roe, which is used in sushi. Brown Line is the only carrier in the Pacific Northwest trusted to carry the high-value, temperature-sensitive freight.

Divers bring the urchins to the surface during the winter months and they are delivered to Brown Line for transport to Oxnard and Los Angeles, CA. They are then processed and the roe is flown to Japan.

Sea urchin"We are diversifying our freight hauls," Riley says. "In the past, Brown Line has been reliant on the seafood industry, but now we are moving into more dairy and vegan products." Offering both truckload and LTL service throughout the U.S. and Western Canada, Brown Line provides companies with a variety of delivery options.

"Natural foods businesses are turning to us for reliable and safe delivery of yogurt-based drinks, vegan protein drinks and probiotics like Kombucha fermented tea." Every Thursday, Brown Line drivers pick up approximately 30,000 pounds of LTL freight from Yakult USA in Fountain Valley, CA and deliver to locations throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada, including grocery stores in Oregon and Washington.

"Our freight is extremely time-sensitive due to short shelf life and expiration dates, so we have to be vigilant about traffic, deadlines and equipment," Riley explains. "Many customers shipping fresh and chill products have sell-by dates which are less than a week after production. It is a testament to our driving teams and dispatchers that our customers trust us to deliver their products at the peak of freshness and quality – especially in the congested Los Angeles area. Routing our trucks efficiently and effectively is imperative."

Jon Morris credits Brown Line with the successful startup of his company Ocean Life Enterprises of Anacortes, WA last year. "Not once during the entire season did we fail to deliver on time," he says.

Last year Brown Line took delivery of 12 reefer trailers featuring the TransTex Edge TopKit Aerodynamic System which provide a 5.5 percent improvement in fuel mileage. In addition, 17 fuel-efficient Freightliner Cascadia Trucks were purchased that average 8 miles per gallon. The state-of-the-art equipment helps drivers get the job done, protects the fragile freight and gives customers confidence in the company. "We get feedback that our clean and modern equipment is one more reason customers place their trust in us," Riley says.

Tags: Seafood, Brown Line, Grocery Chill and Frozen, LTL, Temperature-Controlled, Truckload, Ground

Ready for Bristol Bay salmon season

Posted on Mon, May 21, 2018

Loaded barge going from Dutch Harbor to NaknekAlaska Marine Trucking's Rick McKinley snapped this photo of the Alaska Trader leaving Dutch Harbor, AK last month on its way to Naknek. The fully loaded barge is carrying seven stacks of empty reefers—11 rows across and 5 high—for the Bristol Bay salmon season. "The containers will be filled with frozen salmon or salmon roe and carried back to Seattle or to Dutch Harbor for trans-loading onto a foreign ship for delivery to Asian markets," explains Greg Obeso, Alaska Marine Lines Account Manager.

Tags: Alaska Marine Trucking, Seafood, Alaska, Grocery Chill and Frozen, Temperature-Controlled, Ocean, AML

Brown Line earns prestigious EPA SmartWay High Performer Status

Posted on Thu, Dec 14, 2017

Tulip field (red) with Brown Line truck.jpgBrown Line, LLC, an industry leader in temperature-controlled truck transport, earned a SmartWay Transport Partner 'High Performer' Status ranking from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this month. Among the hundreds of fleets partnering with the EPA through SmartWay, Brown Line is among the select few that have earned SmartWay High Performer status for all performance metrics. 

According to the SmartWay Transport Partnership, just over 2 percent of all SmartWay carriers operate fleets so clean and efficient that they make the High Performer list. "These companies are a step ahead in meeting the challenges of sustainable goods movement and have achieved significant shipping and freight efficiencies that merit special attention," says Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator. "Compared to their SmartWay peers, High Performer carriers drive cleaner, emit fewer pollutants and burn less fuel for every mile they travel and for every ton of freight they move."

Over the past seven years, Brown Line has decreased its idle hours by 87 percent, its Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions by 43 percent, its Particulate Matter emissions (PM) by 52 percent and its Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions per ton mile by 27 percent. The company has also improved its mile per gallon (MPG) by 44 percent. "The Brown Line team is extremely proud of this award and this recognition. To be in the top 2 percent of all trucking companies is affirmation that our efforts to improve freight efficiency are paying off," says Brown Line President Bill Johansen. "We will continue to adopt programs and practices that improve productivity and reduce our carbon footprint on the road and in our operations."

Brown Line uses highly efficient engines, lightweight equipment with enhanced aerodynamics, automatic tire inflation systems and onboard computers to manage highway speed, progressive shifting, best routing options and idle times. Other efficiency measures include:

  • Cab design, with roof fairing, side skirts, integrated sleeper, and aerodynamic mirrors and bumper, reduces drag. Ultra-lightweight 53' trailers use side skirts and trailer tails.
  • Fleet includes 53-foot trailers with California Air Resources Board (CARB) compliant reefer units.
  • Team drivers and new high-efficiency plug-in electric refrigerated trailers minimize the need to idle the truck's engine. All reefers are electric.
  • Efficient engines – DT-12 Transmission Program, Carb Emission Certification-Clean Idle.
  • Gearing – DT-12, heavy duty 12-speed overdrive automated manual transmission increases miles per gallon.
  • All trucks and trailers use wide-base, low-rolling resistant single tires and have an automatic system to keep tires properly inflated for optimum fuel economy and to reduce tire wear.
  • PeopleNet tool is used to measure engine/driver performance in decreasing idle time and increasing miles per gallon with an average of 7.6 MPG for the entire fleet and an overall reduction in fuel use.  
  • Event Recorders are installed in all tractors to ensure improved safety and reduce cost.

Brown Line became a SmartWay Transportation Partner in 2010. Sister company Lynden Transport became the first Alaska trucking company to join SmartWay in 2008, followed by LTI, Inc./Milky Way – a three-time winner of SmartWay's Excellence Award – and Alaska West Express in 2012.  

The EPA launched SmartWay in 2004 to help businesses improve the sustainability of their freight supply chains. Today, the partnership consists of 3,000 companies representing a cross section of the freight supply chain.

Brown Line is one of the Lynden family of companies whose combined capabilities include: shipping to Alaska, truckload and less-than-truckload transportation, barge service to Hawaii and Alaska, charter barges, worldwide air and ocean forwarding, third-party logistics, trade show shipping, intermodal bulk chemical hauls, scheduled and chartered Hercules L-382 cargo aircraft and multi-modal logistics. Lynden companies are repeat winners in the annual Quest for Quality customer service awards presented by Logistics Management magazine.

Tags: Awards, Green Lynden, Seafood, Brown Line, Grocery Chill and Frozen, LTL, Temperature-Controlled, Truckload, Ground

Going Dutch

Posted on Tue, Sep 12, 2017

It's been a busy summer for Alaska Marine Lines' Dutch Harbor Service Center. The team recently handled the transport of a 60-ton rotor for Westward Seafoods, welcomed the 100th vessel of the season and moved into a new shop facility.

"Alaska Marine Lines moved the rotor from Seattle to Dutch Harbor to replace a failing unit in Westward's plant," says Tyler Riley, Dutch Harbor Service Center Manager. "We used two cranes to lift it off our barge which came in dockside to the Westward plant. The delivery went off without a hitch and we had one extremely happy customer."

AML rotor delivery to Dutch Harbor.jpgDutch Harbor serves as the hub for Western Alaska ports, transferring equipment and cargo as needed between Naknek, Dillingham, Bethel, Nome and Kotzebue. "We have many weeks where barges are back to back and we are working two vessels simultaneously," Tyler explains. "We move seafood daily from shoreside customer seafood plants Westward Seafoods and Alyeska Seafoods. On average we receive between 10,000 to 20,000 gallons of fish oil and around eight loads of frozen fish daily from the plants during the busy parts of A and B seasons. We also have several fishing vessels that come to Dutch after catching and processing a full load of fish. They offload frozen product into our containers going to Seattle and backload packaging supplies for another trip to the fishing grounds."

In addition to the daily plant trucking and vessel offload activities, Dutch Harbor provides shuttle barge service for several outports. "During A season we service Saint Paul Island for the opilio (snow) crab season, Sand Point and Beaver Inlet for pollock. During B season we continue the shuttle barges to Sand Point and Beaver Inlet, and add service to Alitak, Chignik, and Port Moller for pollock and/or salmon," Tyler explains.

Last year, AML doubled its capacity in Dutch Harbor with a yard expansion of almost four acres and a second barge ramp system for cargo transfer operations. This year's improvements include a new shop and office built closer to the dock and yard. The mechanics now have a flat concrete floor to work on equipment under a roof out of the elements with a stronger connection between the office and the yard operations. The upgraded shop is constructed of 17 40-foot containers recycled from Alaska Marine Lines' Seattle yard. "They fit together like Lego pieces," explains Rob Jones, Assistant Service Center Manager. "John Maketa and Gordy Lindblad did the welding and built a tent roof for the shop. The containers, including some insulated reefers, were phased out of service so it was a great idea to use them to create our new facility."

Tags: Seafood, Alaska, Oversized/Heavy Haul, Ocean, AML

Lynden Transport receives fisheries award in Cordova

Posted on Wed, Sep 16, 2015

9_2015_fisheries award.jpgLynden Transport and Alaska Airlines Air Cargo were dual winners of the 2015 Prince William Sound Science Fisheries Achievement Award which acknowledges an individual or a group who has made a significant contribution toward the sustainable use of fishery resources in Prince William Sound or the Copper River regions.

Both companies play a vital role in transporting Cordova's fish product to market and help the fishing fleet and town run smoothly. In the photo at left, Prince William Sound Science Center President and CEO Katrina Hoffman (second from left) and Copper River Nouveau Honorary Co-host Margy Johnson present the award to Lynden Transport, represented by Jim Holley (right) along with Jim's son and grandchild.

Tags: Awards, Green Lynden, Seafood, Lynden Transport, Alaska, Grocery Chill and Frozen, Temperature-Controlled

Lynden Logistics expands global network with new office in Newfoundland

Posted on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

SEATTLE – Lynden Logistics, a full-service freight forwarding and logistics company, announces the opening of a new Service Center in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The new location adds a strategic link to Lynden’s extensive global network and will help meet the increasing demand for transportation and logistics in the region. District Operations Manager Jim Giles will manage the office, which will offer a direct connection between Houston, Texas, and the island to support its growing oil and gas industry.

“We are excited about the opportunity to introduce the Lynden Logistics name and brand of service to the Eastern Canada market. Our experience and expertise in the oil and gas, fishing and mining industries are a perfect fit with the logistics and transportation needs of Newfoundland and Labrador,” says Rob Clarke, International Business Development Director in Canada. “In addition to offering air, ocean and expedited ground services, Lynden’s team of licensed customs brokers and experienced staff provide international import and export services, customized solutions and a variety of multi-modal capabilities through its sister companies.”

The St. John’s office is located at 40 Commonwealth Ave., Suite 110 in Mount Pearl; telephone 709-368-8678.

Lynden Logistics is one of the Lynden family of companies whose combined capabilities include worldwide air and ocean forwarding, third-party logistics, trade show shipping, shipping to Alaska, truckload and less-than-truckload transportation, scheduled barges to Alaska and Hawaii, charter barges., intermodal bulk chemical hauls, scheduled and chartered Hercules L-382 cargo aircraft and multi-modal logistics. Lynden companies are repeat winners in the annual Quest for Quality awards presented by Logistics Management magazine.

Tags: Freight Forwarding, Canada, Seafood, Lynden Logistics, United States, Energy, Mining, Project Logistics

Alaska Marine Lines invests in world's most efficient refrigerated units

Posted on Tue, Jan 14, 2014

AML logoAlaska Marine Lines, a Lynden company providing marine transportation to and from Alaska, is continuing its efforts to work lean and green by purchasing 200 of the most energy efficient refrigerated units in the world. The Star Cool "reefers" achieve the industry's lowest energy consumption by matching the compressor speed to the required heat load of the container rather than running at a single constant speed. In addition, the box and refrigeration equipment are built as one unit with an insulation system designed to minimize energy loss.

"At Lynden, we foster a culture of customer service, innovation and efficiency with a focus on protecting the environments where we do business," says Alex McKallor, Executive Vice President of Operations. "We operate under a company-wide Green Initiative and adopt programs and practices that reduce our environmental impact. Investing in this new energy efficient equipment is part of that effort."

Alaska Marine Lines barge into the sunsetAlaska Marine Lines already uses a time-share system on frozen loads, greatly reducing energy consumption, and the new Star Cool reefers will allow the same energy saving results for chill loads. The energy saved will make it possible to power more units during Alaska's peak fish season to accommodate high volumes for customers without additional generators, energy use and fuel costs.

Over the past two years, Alaska Marine Lines phased out its 220-volt reefers and transitioned to more energy efficient 440-volt units. The company has worked to reduce fuel use and conserve energy in other areas as well. Working with partner Western Towboat, fuel and route optimization has reduced fuel use without compromising service. At the Seattle terminal, lighting and heating upgrades have reduced electric and natural gas use, and new electric forklifts emit 50 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the older propane units.

Alaska Marine Lines also works with local communities and other Lynden companies to support recycling efforts around Alaska. The company moves nearly 3,500 tons of recyclables each year from Anchorage to Seattle for Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling (ALPAR), helping to make drop-off recycling free and convenient for residents. In Cordova, the company donates shipment of gill nets for the Copper River Watershed Project as well as aluminum cans and cardboard where proceeds from recycling go to the local high school.

Along with sister companies Lynden Transport and Alaska West Express, Alaska Marine Lines has earned Alaska's Green Star Award, recognizing businesses that practice waste reduction, energy conservation, and pollution prevention. Lynden companies are on Inbound Logistics magazine's annual 75 Green Supply Chain Partner lists each year, and LTI, Inc., Lynden Transport, Brown Line, LLC and Alaska West Express are all EPA SmartWay Transport Partners.

Lynden's environmental policy calls for meeting or exceeding environmental regulations, maximizing fuel efficiency and monitoring and guarding against accidents, emissions and avoidable pollution.

Tags: Green Lynden, Seafood, Grocery Chill and Frozen, Temperature-Controlled, AML

Alaska Marine Lines prepared for heavy herring shipments this season

Posted on Sun, May 26, 2013

Herring opening in SitkaHerring season has arrived in Southeast Alaska.  Each year, fishermen eagerly await the opening of the Sitka Sound Herring season.  The fish is a valued commodity in Japan and where most of the product is shipped in foreign export containers.  Alaska Marine Lines positions the necessary equipment northbound to support this market every year.  “This year’s forecast was 11,500 tons and most likely will be caught in four openings, processed at plants in Southeast Alaska (Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell) and sent south on the Alaska Marine Lines barge back to Seattle and markets beyond,” explains Patrick Crosby, Alaska Marine Lines Account Representative in Seattle. This photo is from opening day of the Sitka Sac Roe Herring Fishery.

Tags: Seafood, Alaska, Grocery Chill and Frozen, Temperature-Controlled, Ocean, AML