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.
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Imagine 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".
While 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.
The quick response of new Alaska Marine Trucking Driver Andrew Lawson saved company equipment and prevented the loss of three new cars belonging to a customer. Alaska Marine Trucking delivers vehicles to an auto dealership in Juneau twice weekly, year-round, with a specialized car-hauling trailer. Andrew was on the road to the dealership when he heard a loud ‘BOOM!’ He saw flames in his rear view mirror, pulled over and saw the trailer was on fire. The brakes of the trailer overheated and the brake drum blew in a fiery explosion. This, in turn, caught the inside trailer tire on fire, destroying it.
Andrew grabbed the fire extinguisher from his truck and quickly put out the flames. After the incident, he inspected all the gear and freight involved, and called his dispatcher. Fortunately Andrew and the cargo being transported were unharmed. Dispatcher Carolyn Smith contacted the dealership, and Andrew was able to unload the cars safely to complete delivery to the customer. "Thanks to his quick thinking and actions, Andrew saved the customer's shipment and Alaska Marine Lines what might have been a total loss of our equipment. I would like to recognize him for using his safety training, quick thinking and fast actions to save a disaster from happening," Carolyn says.
Over the 17 years that Lynden International Senior Account Executive Randy Main has been working with customers, he has handled many emergency shipments. "Every so often we get a shipment with a story behind it and a face behind the package," he says. In this case, it was a pharmaceutical shipment for McKesson, a long-time Lynden customer.
McKesson's Distribution Center Manager Jonathan Burke wrote a letter about Randy's customer service and extraordinary efforts to ensure a lifesaving drug reached critically ill patients in Kotzebue, AK. "I looked up flights going to Kotzebue and the only one was leaving that afternoon," Jon writes. "I immediately reached out to Randy and asked if we could somehow get this drug on that flight. Within minutes of the call, Randy arrived to pick up the package and was on the phone to see what he could do to get the package tendered on Alaska Airlines. Through his efforts, he was able to hold the plane and get the package onboard."
With only minutes until departure and well past the carrier’s cutoff, Lynden’s Owen Mitchell and Matt Kelly started the paperwork while Main contacted the flight crew to ask if they could coordinate an after-hours handoff with the hospital in Kotzebue. Hours later, the life-saving medication arrived and was administered to the patient, a baby suffering from meningitis, and other children in the household. "I am deeply grateful to have Randy as our account manager who showed great heroism on our behalf," Jonathan says.
"We have so many pharmaceutical shipments going out each morning and each one could potentially contain life-saving medication," Randy explains. "With more than 30 shipments a day, we contend with the daily challenge of limited flights and carrier options, weather delays, and a variety of seasonal issues. McKesson was in a tough situation, and I'm glad that we could help along with our partners at Alaska Airlines who held the plane and allowed the freight to be tendered past the normal cutoff period. Alaska can be a challenging place to live and work. I'm proud of our Lynden team for the role they played in recognizing the need and going above and beyond to help."
A cross-town move from one REI store to another went off without a hitch thanks to Lynden Transport’s Anchorage team and experienced drivers.
All retail merchandise from the previous store location in Anchorage was transported to the new, bigger facility in Midtown Mall within a few days. "Some of the gear was palletized and some of it was loosely stacked. REI even left apparel on the clothing racks and rolled them right onto the trailers," explains Northwest Regional Sales Manager John Husby. "The only thing we didn’t move were the lighting fixtures."
In addition to the store-to-store freight, Lynden drivers loaded up trailers at REI’s distribution center in Sumner, WA, with additional merchandise to stock the 50,000-square-foot space. Sumner is the usual pickup location for both Fairbanks and Anchorage REI stores. Lynden Transport drivers drop the trailers for loading at the center, then take them the rest of the way north via ship. Trailers for Fairbanks go via rail and are then intercepted for truck delivery to the REI store. Kayaks and canoes sometimes ride the rail barge, according to John, and Alaska Marine Lines barges are often used for larger freight.
John attended the store’s soft opening in January. "Everything was in the store and everyone was all smiles. "Lynden’s support for our relocation was invaluable to us," says Sarah Chadd, REI Logistics Supply Chain Analyst.
Tom Greinier has been hauling fish for Juneau's salmon hatchery, Douglas Island Pink And Chum (DIPAC), for over 20 years. In fact, DIPAC has followed Tom during his trucking career even before he started working for Alaska Marine Trucking. "He's the reason we haul fish for them at all," says fellow Driver Brian Weokoluk. "They specifically ask for him year after year."
Not only have Tom's skills behind the wheel led to a long-lasting customer relationship, his commitment to working around DIPAC's schedule has fed Juneau's waters with predictable salmon spawn while supporting the fishing community.
Alaska Marine Trucking Driver Jim Cartmill is a member of the DIPAC Board of Directors. "Trucking live fish from one point to another is crucial in the hatchery's success," he says. "They're raised at Macaulay until they're about 3 inches long, and then hauled off to an ocean pen where they mature and are released into open water. DIPAC is a huge support to both our local and intra-state communities."
According to Brian, the reason DIPAC trusts only a select few to truck live fish is all in the gear shifting during transport. The drive must be as smooth as possible for the least amount of disruption to the fish. If the gear changing rocks the holding tanks too much during the drive, it can cause air bubbles in the tankers that may stress or even kill the small fish fry.
Fortunately, that's not a worry with professionals like Tom in the driver's seat. This spring he took some time to talk another of Alaska Marine Trucking's experienced drivers through the process for their first run to the Thane Road site with a DIPAC employee.
This 75,000-pound tubing spool is headed north on the Dalton Highway via Alaska West Express. According to Project Specialist Steve Willford, this particular spool for customer Nabors Drilling was lighter than usual.
The larger tubing spools are 15 feet in diameter and range in weight from 55,000 to 90,000 pounds, depending on the type of tubing. Alaska West Express has moved specialized coils, both on round spools and on more specialized work reels, with weights ranging from 100,000 to 120,000 pounds. The heavier spools are transported on lowboys with additional axles to distribute the weight.
“We regularly haul tubing spools that come into our yard on rail cars. They are unloaded and stored for transport to the North Slope as needed,” he explains. “Our primary customer is Schlumberger, but we also have occasional spools that belong to Nabors Drilling.”
The smaller tubing spools measure 135 inches in diameter and weigh 40,000 to 45,000 pounds. “This is just another day’s work for most of our yard workers and drivers,” Steve says. “This is the type of service we provide our customers on an everyday basis.”
This spring CH2M Hill needed a drill rig transported from Kenai to Prudhoe Bay within 48 hours. The catch: the rig consisted of 21 loads - all hot shot.
The Lynden crew in Kenai quickly mobilized for the two-day rush. Customer Service Representative Danette Goode and Operations Manager Boyd Jorgensen set to work on the load-out. Service Center Manager John Jansen handled details at the Prudhoe Bay Service Center.
"This was a super fast track move and, at 21 loads, quite a challenge," says Lynden Transport Account Manager Sam Amato. "We couldn't have done it without the efforts of Boyd and Danette."
Boyd, in turn, recognized drivers Jason Toliver, David Martinsen and Rusty Deckard for their dedication to getting the loads on the road. "They made sure everything arrived smoothly on-site," he says. Kenai Service Center Manager Kyle Fisher summed it up, saying "Great employees and teamwork are what make Lynden so effective in situations like this. Everyone has a positive attitude and is willing to work together to make it happen for our customers."
(One of the 21 CH2M Hill loads arrives in Prudhoe Bay)
Sam was at Prudhoe Bay when the first loads arrived and later met with the CH2M Hill team that had flown in to assemble the drill rig. "They came to us with a very time-sensitive project and trusted us to get it done," he says. "In the oil business, idle equipment costs money. They were extremely happy that Lynden was able to meet the challenge."
When the project was complete, Lynden moved the rig south from Prudhoe Bay to Nikiski, Alaska, for CH2M Hill. The project required 26 loads this time, instead of 21, due to road and weight restrictions. Loads went from Prudhoe to the Fairbanks yard where Lynden split them into smaller sizes for the final leg to Kenai-Nikiski.
How's your work commute? Sam Amato sent in this photo looking down the haul road (Dalton Highway, connecting Livengood to Deadhorse over 414 miles).
A yellow Piper PA-20 hangs from the roof of the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. The plane brings back fond memories for those who knew the pilot. From 1948 to 1974, Episcopal Bishop Bill Gordon was known as Alaska's Flying Bishop. He earned his reputation by transporting supplies and people as he flew to villages and performed religious services. He married people, christened babies and saved lives by flying the sick and injured to hospitals.
(The Flying Bishop Bill Gordon)
Last year, the plane was sitting in Juneau in need of a ride. Lynden Transport offered to move it to Fairbanks where it could be restored to resemble the one flown by the late Bishop Bill Gordon. Shirley Gordon, Bill's 86-year-old widow, was there when the plane was lifted into place at the cultural center in Fairbanks. A dedication ceremony is planned this year.
(The Flying Bishop's plane being unloaded)
The Flying Bishop is immortalized in the book "Angel on his Wing" by Tay Thomas and the movie "The Light of the North" produced by the Episcopal Church. The movie shows Bishop Bill visiting Alaska missions in 1951.
"From the Lynden Archives": This article was originally written in February 2010.
Lynden International was entrusted with some mighty important cargo this past fall and winter. The State of Alaska selected Lynden as the distributor for the H1N1 flu vaccine to various locations around the state. Since mid-October, Lynden has moved around 500 shipments of nine different types of vaccine.
Handling the temperature-sensitive packages is a huge responsibility. Lynden's knowledge of Alaska and its experience delivering to just about anywhere is paying off with not a single shipment late or missed. The distribution points range from larger cities where truck delivery is the norm to smaller villages where bush pilots deliver the vaccine to someone waiting on the ground.
The vaccine is flown into Anchorage and repackaged for local deliveries. Lynden's EZ Commerce tracking system has been a big help in keeping track of daily shipments. Lynden follows up each delivery with a phone call to verify
"From the Lynden Archives": This story was originally written in December 2009.