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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

Juneau masks

Posted on Fri, Oct 02, 2020

Alaska Marine Lines bargeIn Juneau, local business Capital Canvas converted its facility to start producing face masks, shields and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline medical and emergency personnel. Owner Hal Doughtery sterilized his entire shop and began PPE production this spring, according to Alaska Marine Trucking Health and HSSE Manager Brett Farrell. Hal provided Alaska Marine Trucking with 200 masks for distribution to employees. In turn, Alaska Marine Lines made a cash donation to help the effort as well as providing free shipping of all materials to fabricate the masks.

Tags: Alaska Marine Trucking, Alaska, Community, AML

New ramp on the job in Juneau

Posted on Fri, Aug 14, 2020

Juneau ramp with Alaska TraderLanding ramps are essential marine equipment in Southeast Alaska. The massive steel ramps connect the barge to land, allowing for the safe and smooth transfer of freight at Southeast ports. This summer, Juneau received a new ramp built by Lynden's long-term partner Western Towboat. The Juneau ramp – 120-feet long, 24-feet wide and 243,000 pounds – took six months to build in Seattle. Two cranes were needed to lift it from the Western Towboat yard onto the barge.

Ramps must hold up under the weight of 165,000-pound forklifts hauling payloads of 90,000 pounds or more, day after day. "We use them multiple times a day so quality is extremely important in their construction. We know we can count on Western Towboat's integrity in building our ramps and that they will last for years," says Juneau Service Center Manager Mike Payne.

JNU ramp setting July 4, 2020After construction at Western Towboat's Seattle yard, the Juneau ramp was barged to Alaska Marine Lines' Y-5 terminal. The ramp's 90,000-pound tank was built in Ketchikan by Vigor Shipyard. It also needed a ride to Juneau and was delivered ahead of the ramp.

"The new ramp is working great. Western Towboat has the best fabricators around," says Marine Operations Manager Joe Purcell. "The whole team did an amazing job getting this done with no delays in barge service to Juneau. We pulled the old ramp out at noon on a Thursday and had the new ramp operational at 2 a.m. Sat., July 4. We had to wait for the high tide Friday night to lift it into the water."

The old ramp is still undergoing repairs in the Juneau yard and is expected to be set in Haines later this year. Western Towboat has built ramps for Alaska Marine Lines ports in Ketchikan, Cordova, Petersburg, Seattle, Whittier and Haines.

Tags: Alaska, Ocean, AML

Alaska Marine Lines rail barges upgrade ballast systems

Posted on Wed, Aug 05, 2020

Alaska Marine Lines rail barge 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:

Robot removing paint
  • 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."

Tags: Alaska, Ocean, AML

Alaska Marine Lines celebrates 40 years

Posted on Wed, Jul 15, 2020

Alaska Marine Lines celebrates 40 yearsAlaska 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.

Alaska Marine Lines Presidents over the yearsPictured 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: 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

Alaska Marine Lines expands fleet with two big barges

Posted on Mon, Jun 22, 2020

Alaska Marine Lines barge in SeattleAlaska 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.

Tags: Hawaii, Ocean, AML

Alaska Marine Lines employees participate in Stay 6', Stay Safe campaign

Posted on Tue, Jun 02, 2020

Alaska Marine Lines Stay Safe campaignAlaska 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.

Tags: Lynden Employees, Safety, AML

New features added to Lynden's mobile app

Posted on Tue, May 12, 2020

Lynden's mobile appLynden's mobile app recently received updates, including expanded GPS map tracking and shipment detail. The app has also been updated for compatibility with iOS 13 and Android 10 and is available now in the App Store and Google Play store.

Improvements were based on customer feedback and include:

Date and time: “Received” and “Delivered” status updates now include dates and timestamps (when available) providing more detail than before.

GPS maps: In addition to written status updates, GPS maps are included with select active shipments. Most notable are shipments on Alaska Marine Lines’ barges which can now be tracked every mile of the journey. Maps are also offered for select truck shipments and show freight scanned into most Service Centers for all modes.

Equipment numbers: New in this release, the equipment number(s) for active shipments are displayed in the search results, throughout the shipment details pages, and on the available Excel export. This will be especially helpful to customers who ship multiple full container loads and need to quickly identify the shipment by equipment number.

Core features of the app include the ability to track shipments, receive status updates via email, and view and email documents like bills of lading and invoices. Visit www.lynden.com/mobile to learn more or download the app.

Tags: Lynden, AML