Vessel Profile: the F/V Progress

A Nautican Integrated Propulsion Unit installation on the f/v Progress. Photo courtesy of Fred Wahl Marine Construction.

Flashback to March 2018: the fishing vessel Progress fights for her life in the Bering Sea as what’s been described as a giant rogue wave crashes into her. The pilothouse is a total loss as thousands of gallons of seawater flood into the accommodations and engine room below.

But fortunately, the Progress, which was built by Harold Hansen Boat Co. in 1974 and has fished Bering Sea pollock since the 1980s, was able to maintain structural integrity long enough to be towed to Reedsport, Ore. for repairs in the Fred Wahl Marine Construction yard.

“We worked with Fred Wahl and Hockema Group to design an improved vessel,” Hunter Berns of vessel owner Bering North explained. 

Bering North is majority owned by two Alaskan CDQ (Community Development Quota) groups, the Coastal Villages Region Fund, and the Norton Sound Economic Development Corp., which purchased a group of vessels in 2022.

“After deliberation, the owners chose not only to rebuild the vessel but also enlarge it significantly, adding capacity to their fleet,” said Hal Hockema, chairman of the Hockema Group naval architecture firm.

A 14-foot midbody was added and the hull was sponsoned, with finished hull dimensions of 130 feet, 6-inches in length by 41-feet, 6-inches in breadth. The pilothouse was replaced with a two-level house and the mast with a freestanding unit.

“Other than being much larger, the result is one of the finest looking fishing vessels in the North Pacific and Bering Sea,” Hockema said.

2,000 Horsepower Repower Underway

Hockema Group designed the hull, house and mast modifications in 2018, and also the major components of a repowering project that is underway.

During the original modifications, Hockema Group designed new propulsion shafting to accommodate a 2,000-horsepower main engine, now being installed. 

“The much larger vessel with high pilothouse provides excellent seakeeping and stability characteristics,” Hockema explained. “The substantial increase in main engine power will provide higher towing thrust to accommodate a larger net for larger catches and faster transit times between the fishing grounds and the shoreside processing plant.”

“One of the main constraints to this vessel has been horsepower and this will vastly improve the vessel’s flexibility in most fishing conditions,” Berns said.

“For a trawler in the Bering Sea, it’s important to catch the fish as fast as possible in order to get a fresh product back to the processing plant. (The repower) will also increase our ability to avoid salmon bycatch in the pollock fishery, reduce our fuel burn and increase the speed of the vessel,” he said, adding that the company is committing about $2 million to the re-power.

Over the past few months, the Hockema Group designs allowed for installations of the new main engine, reduction gear and a Nautican Integrated Propulsion Unit (IPU) that includes a propeller, high-efficiency nozzle and triple rudder system.

The re-power includes a Cummins QSK 60 running 2000 horsepower at 1600 RPM (increased from the previous CAT 3512 at 1280 horsepower) coupled to a Reintjes WAF 763 5.913:1 reduction into the vessel. Curry Marine provided the engine and Karl Senner the gear.

The Nautican IPU includes the nozzle, triple rudder system, pre-swirl stators and propeller. Jastram has provided the new steering rams. Additionally, a Cummins X-15 engine replaces the old Detroit 892 hydraulic unit.

“We worked with Hockema Group to do the pre-engineering for the bed rail modifications required for a new engine of this size,” Berns said. “They (Hockema) are very thorough and well-versed in re-powers which saves you from having to make expensive mistakes.”

Nautican worked closely with the Hockema Group in the selection of the nozzle/propeller size and pitch in conjunction with the engine and gearbox to ensure the most efficient and easy-to-install package.

For the 2024 re-power, Nautican provided a new 88-inch high efficiency nozzle with pre-swirl stators and a new Nautican high-skew propeller, designed with a custom headbox to include the rudders as a complete Nautican integrated propulsion system.

The five-bladed propeller, 88-inches in diameter by 91-inch pitch, and made of CF3 stainless steel, was designed in coordination with and provided by Wingate Marine.

“The Nautican Integrated Propulsion System … is assembled in our shop and installed in the vessel as a complete unit,” Research & Development President Dave Dumont said.

“The triple rudders, which were installed in 2019, were sized proactively to fit the Nautican 88-inch nozzle and the new integrated propulsion unit was designed to incorporate these existing rudders in the shipyard, as we would for a brand-new complete unit,”
he explained.

According to Dumont, the new propulsion package is anticipated to provide over 60,000 lbs. of bollard pull and about 50,000 lbs. of thrust at the 3- to 3.5-knot operating speed.

While the Nautican conversion alone would account for a 15% increase in bollard and 13% increase in thrust at operation speed, the additional increase to 2,000 horsepower gives the vessel about 57% more bollard pull and thrust at speed as compared to the 2019 configuration.

 “The benefits of the Nautican system were well documented and quantified on the f/v Raven, which was a simple replacement of a conventional 19a nozzle and achieved a 13% increase in bollard pull, an increase in speed of 1 knot at reduced fuel consumption and an average improvement of 20% in fuel economy,” Dumont explained.

The integrated system also includes the Nautican triple differential rudder system. The triple rudders have an offset/differential arrangement whereby the inner and outer rudders turn at different angles from the center rudder.

With the center rudder at 45 degrees, the inner and outer rudders are at 35 and 60 degrees where all three work together to maximize steering side force while maintaining thrust. Dumont said the system will direct up to 70% of the thrust in the transverse direction with a very small slip in total thrust.

“When installed on a fishing vessel, the Nautican triple rudders provide for greater maneuvering and allow the vessel to make hard over-turns without a significant reduction in thrust,” Dumont said. “This helps the operator to maintain vessel speed and pull on the net during the turns.”

Nautican also provided Jastram tillers and cylinders with custom mounts and stops on the headbox, so that the complete steering gear system can be mounted on the Nautican unit itself. The provided steering gear in this case was connected to the existing electro-hydraulic system. 

“The most obvious benefit of the re-power will be the substantial … increase in thrust provided by the larger engines and Nautican nozzle, stators and propeller system,” Dumont said. “This will translate in the ability to pull a larger net and a higher vessel transit speed. The vessel will also see a higher efficiency in putting this increased horsepower into the water, as gained by the Nautican system.”

He also pointed out how the increased performance is achieved by moving the propeller and nozzle aft, which is possible thanks to the more compact triple rudders.

Installing a larger nozzle and propeller, which in itself provides more thrust and efficiency, also allows for more power. The larger unit with proportionally larger rudders placed further aft further improves maneuverability.

“The vessel already had Nautican triple rudders … and so they have already enjoyed the improved maneuverability, but this will be further enhanced by the increased amount of thrust the units can provide,” Dumont remarked.

What’s Next

“The North Pacific and Alaska commercial fishing industry is currently seeing less construction activity than in the past,” Hockema said, as Bering Sea crab quotas have been cut and most fish prices are lower than in the recent past. This, he believes, will take time to pass.

“That said, we remain busy with fishing vessel modifications and stability work, which are staples of our business model,” he remarked. “This helps us even out the cyclical nature of major projects and we are committed to participate in projects, large and small, for our fishing industry clientele.”

Bering North has indicated that it looks forward to closing this chapter of yardwork.

“There isn’t anything else on the horizon for the company right now,” Berns said. “This is a large project and we are looking forward to its completion and the vessel’s return to the Bering Sea.”   

Norris Comer is a Seattle-based writer and author. His debut memoir, Salmon in the Seine: Alaskan Memories of Life, Death, & Everything In-Between is now available wherever books are sold. You can find him on Substack, Instagram and at He can be reached via email at