Lynden 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.
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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.
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.
Knik 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.
Lynden’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."
Executive 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.
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.
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
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.
A 70-inch, 1,300-pound propeller from Bering Marine Corporation’s Arctic Bear tugboat now graces Seattle’s North Passage Point Park as a sculpture honoring the Seattle-Alaska maritime industry. The prop was one of a pair on the shallow-draft tug that was in service in Prudhoe Bay.
It’s been a long journey from the day Bering Marine gifted the stainless steel prop to Naval Architect Philip Thiel and its installation at the park this spring. Philip, a University of Washington Professor Emeritus of Architecture, Urban Design and Planning, designed the base for the propeller and he planned to donate the prop to the parks department for use in the maritime sculpture.
Shortly after the prop was delivered to Philip’s home in Seattle, thieves pulled up in a truck and stole it right out of the back yard. A Seattle TV station aired a story about the crime and the Seattle Parks Department issued a press release asking for the public’s help to find the missing prop.
“Philip filed a police report, but we didn’t hold out much hope,” says Linda Hubert, Maintenance Manager for Seattle Parks and Recreation. “They were obviously thieves with some mechanical resources to nab a huge, heavy propeller inside a retaining wall and fence. Phil was broken-hearted.” He offered a $1,000 reward to anyone with information about the crime. Police speculated that the thieves wanted the stainless steel propeller for its scrap metal value.
After the word got out, a security guard at an industrial park in Kent, WA discovered the stolen propeller and contacted the Kent Police Department. The propeller was transported back to the site and the sculpture was completed. The monument (above) includes a plaque identifying the Arctic Bear propeller and Bering Marine Corporation’s donation.
Earlier this year, Alaska West Express, Lynden Transport and Bering Marine Corporation teamed up to move a valuable rocket motor from Elkta, MD to Kodiak, AK for government contractor ATK. It was the first commercial move of its type to the launch facility and was completed in just five days compared to the usual three-week turnaround.
“Instead of shipping to Seattle and barging as this unit had moved previously, we proposed to truck the unit to Homer, AK inside a Lynden Transport heated van and use the Arctic Seal Bering Marine landing craft to haul the truck and trailer to Kodiak for transport to the launch facility,” explains Jim Earl, Terminal Manager for Alaska West Express in Tacoma. Due to the explosive material in the motor, Alaska West Express was required to maintain a controlled temperature and shock recorder environment on the journey north. Satellite tracking and dual drivers were also used because of the sensitivity of the unit. The innovative delivery plan allowed the truck to stay hooked to the trailer as it was carried across on the Arctic Seal saving the customer almost two weeks of transit time.
Alaska West Express Drivers Dan and Michelle Henry carefully moved the unit up the highway, and Bering Marine Captain Jack Rasmussen and the Arctic Seal crew sailed across the gulf to Kodiak. The rocket motor was rated explosive hazard class so multiple permits were required by both the U.S. and Canada. “Jim Maltby and Alan Hoza jumped through some major hoops to secure permits on short notice, and Scott Hicks did a great job with highway-marine coordination and communicating with the customer,” Jim says. “It was nice to see Lynden teamwork in action, and it appears that we have secured a repeat customer."