Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Trade with Alaska: Maritime Transportation Remains Critical to Alaska Economy


Boyer Towing

The Billie G, built as a schooner in 1932, is part of Boyer Towing's fleet of 20 barges and 15 tug boats providing contract towing and barging year-round, including seasonal work to Northwest Alaska.

Air freight options notwithstanding, ship and barge freight remain the key to millions of dollars in trade of millions of pounds of merchandise between Alaska and the continental ("Lower 48") United States.

Just about everything from fresh produce and other groceries to seafood and seafood supplies, construction materials, clothing, household goods and cargo from the government and freight forwarders finds its way to and from Alaska via the marine corridors, dominated by Lynden Inc., Matson, TOTE Maritime, Samson Tug and Barge, and Boyer Towing.

Lynden Inc. the parent company of Alaska Marine Lines, Lynden Transport, Alaska West Express, Lynden Air Cargo and other operating companies, ships general cargo to, from and within Alaska, said Jim Jansen, chairman of the parent firm. To that end they utilize the services of TOTE, Matson, Alaska Marine Lines, the Alaska Marine Highway system and trucks traveling over Alaska's highway system. Lynden has terminals in Anchorage, Cordova, Kenai, Fairbanks, Prudhoe Bay, Whittier and Valdez and also visits ports in Southeast Alaska.

Additional Lynden terminals are located in Tacoma, Houston and Los Angeles.

"Our business is seasonal, with seafood and construction busiest during the ice-free season, and the oil patch heaviest during the winter," Jansen said.

Lynden, which has been operating in Alaska since 1954, began as a horse drawn transportation firm in Lynden, Washington in 1906. Today the company employs about 3,000 people, mostly in Alaska and Washington State.

Lynden's Alaska Marine Lines provides barge services to and from Alaska and Hawaii, with twice weekly service to Southeast Alaska and central Alaska, seasonal services to Western Alaska and bi-weekly services to Hawaii. Charter services are also available to the more than 100 Alaska communities AML serves, from Ketchikan, in Southeast Alaska, to Kotzebue, in Northwest Alaska.

Since 1982, AML has transported general commodities, including groceries, building materials, seafood and heavy, oversized cargoes.

The challenges lie in refrigerated commodities, to keep them from freezing, and with heavy or oversized cargo, said David Rosenzweig, vice president of marketing and media for Lynden. AML serves many small villages with no port facilities, requiring specialized landing craft to enable delivery of cargo over an unimproved beach landing site.

AML also is a major provider of logistics to Alaska's seafood industry, a task that requires a tremendous amount of equipment to be positioned for the various seafood runs. The company is busiest during the ice free months in Western Alaska, Rosenzweig said.

Crowley Maritime Corp. has been serving Alaska residents and businesses since 1953, and is considered a leader in the Alaska fuel industry, providing transportation, distribution and sales of petroleum products to more than 280 communities in Alaska.

Crowley began providing transportation services into the arctic in 1969 with sealifts into Prudhoe Bay and petroleum transportation for re-supply of remote villages and government facilities. Its primary services include project management, heavy lift barge transportation, ocean towing, engineering, liquefied natural gas services, naval architecture, vessel design and construction management, project concept studies and emergency response.

Crowley provides summer tug-and-barge sealifts of large production modules and various marine transportation services. At the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline, Crowley provides tanker escort and docking services in Valdez Harbor and Prince William Sound for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company's ship Escort/Response Vessel System, as well as tanker assist and escort services at Tesoro Alaska 's Nikiski refinery in Cook Inlet.

Matson Inc, a principal carrier of containerized cargo and automobiles between the Pacific Coast and Hawaii, acquired the Alaska service formerly operated by Horizon Lines in late May 2015.

In August, Matson took delivery at Kodiak of a new 65-ton gantry crane, replacing one half its size, at the company's terminal in Kodiak.

The crane, which stands more than 340 feet tall at its peak, with a boom spanning 164 feet, is capable of lifting loads up to 60 feet long and weighing up to 145,000 pounds.

Matson services include expertise in support of Alaska's seafood industry, including transporting a variety of seafood species, including groundfish, and crab for export, although not consistently, said Keoni Wagner, director of corporate communications for Matson. The company also carries some oil and gas supplies, but not a lot, he said.

The company brings more than 130 years of Pacific shipping expertise to Alaska, offering twice weekly service between Tacoma, Anchorage and Kodiak, and weekly service between Tacoma and Dutch Harbor, with a full range of equipment, including dry and refrigerated containers, open top containers, car carriers, flatracks and insulated containers.

Matson also has truck, rail and barge service connections throughout the Anchorage area, Kodiak and the Aleutian Chain, as well as the Lower 48.

TOTE Maritime Alaska, which has operated in the Jones Act trade since 1975, promotes its services for strategically and efficiently routing cargo from anywhere in North American to Puerto Rico and Alaska. In a move toward increased environmental responsibility, TOTE announced three years ago its plans to convert its maritime fleet to operate on liquefied natural gas. By doing so, the company will create access to reliable sources of LNG to Pacific Northwest and Southeast US ports, and help lead to the proliferation of natural gas as a transportation fuel, company officials said.

Services offered by TOTE include twice-weekly service between Tacoma and Anchorage, said company spokeswoman Tyler Edgar. Given the challenges of shipping to and from Alaska, TOTE built its current ships specifically for the Alaska market, to withstand the weather and sea conditions. "We are just about to start our Keep From Freezing service for 2015," Edgar said, adding "hope this gives you a sense of the challenges in Alaska.

Samson Tug and Barge, an Alaskan owned and operated interstate shipping company, is headquartered in Sitka. The company offers a complete range of barge freight and cargo hauling services on a scheduled basis year-round, to, from and throughout Alaska, hauling seafood, construction materials, groceries and general supply items.

Samson sails from Seattle bi-weekly to Cordova, Valdez, Fairbanks, Prudhoe Bay, Seward, Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak, King Cove and Dutch Harbor. Weekly sailings from Seattle go to the communities of Metlakatla, Ketchikan, Craig, Klawock, Thorne Bay, Wrangell, Petersburg, Juneau and Sitka.

Alaska Marine Lines

Alaska Marine Lines, a subsidiary of Lynden Inc. has, since 1982, transported general commodities, including groceries, building materials, seafood and heavy, oversized cargoes to and from Alaska.

The company transports Alaska breakbulk, less-than-container-load and household goods shipments, including automobiles destined for Southeast Alaska, as well as large shipments, including boats, shipper-loaded containers and automobiles destined for central and Western Alaska, including Prince William Sound.

Boyer Towing, based in Seattle, operates 20 inland or ocean barges, sized up to 15,000 tons, with capabilities for deck cargo, self-loading ocean log barge, railroad cars and loading over beaches with ramp barges.

The company also has 15 tug boats, ranging up to 4,000 horsepower, said owner Boyer Halverson.

The company does contract towing and barging year-round, including seasonal work to Northwest Alaska.

Boyer owns major barge/freight terminals, docks and more in Seattle, Ketchikan, Thorne Bay and Ward Cove, Alaska, with secondary docks and moorings elsewhere in Washington and Southeast Alaska. It's Seattle terminal operated by Boyer Logistics, provides contract stevedoring and freight operations for the company and other customers.


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