By Peter Marsh
Naval Architects Re-Organize as Hockema Group
The longtime West Coast firm of Hockema Whalen Myers Associates, Inc. kicked off 2021 with management changes that have resulted in a new name for the company, which specializes naval architecture and marine engineering. Hockema Group’s president is now John Myers; Michael Minnig will take on Myers’ former role of vice president and senior principal, while Craig Pomeroy is now the principal naval architect. Founder Hal Hockema will ease back and continue on a part-time basis as an advisor.
The group’s last fishing vessel project was the plan for the completion of a 58-foot x 27-foot x 11-foot steel hull that was begun by Delta Marine in Seattle almost a decade ago. The bare hull was kept in a warehouse for about five years until it was bought by Buck and Ann Fisheries of Warrenton, Ore. a year ago. Skipper Bernie Burkholder towed it to the Columbia River and spent most of 2020 fitting it out in the water for pot fishing in Alaska. Named the Aleutian Endurance, it holds around 200,000 pounds of black cod chilled by a 60-ton refrigerated seawater system from IMS.
F/V Aleutian Ballad — an Ambassador for Commercial Fishing
Also based on the lower Columbia is the 107-foot fishing vessel Aleutian Ballad, formerly a Bering Sea crabber that appeared on the Discovery Channel series “Deadliest Catch.” In 2005, during the second season of that Emmy Award-winning show, the boat was abeam by a rogue wave, rolling it onto its side and stoving in the wheelhouse windows. “After that happened, I decided to fix her up to be a tour boat running crab-fishing experience trips for cruise ship passengers out of Ketchikan,” owner David Lethin explained years ago.
“I designed the configuration so that passengers could watch the fishing operations in comfort and safety from 110 seats on the main deck and 40 seats on an upper observation deck like a ballpark, with heat radiating from overhead lamps,” he said. Giddings Boatworks in Coos Bay, Oregon did the conversion to a USCG-certified passenger vessel in 2006-7 and the boat operated as ‘The Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour’ every summer until COVID-19 shut him down in 2020.
Lethin decided this was his best chance to give the boat a full overhaul, so he took the boat back to Giddings. The project began with sandblasting the underwater hull and applying five coats of paint; they blasted the main deck down to the keel and repainted. The hydraulic system that operates all the deck machinery for hauling the various types of pots they use for demonstrations was renewed, and the fire-fighting system was replaced with stainless steel piping. Among the numerous upgrades are: a new 50 hp Wesmar Bow Thruster and tube, two new Fernstrum engine keel coolers and cofferdam mounts and new piping, removed and inspected fourteen manhole hatches on the main deck.
A local electrical firm installed new wiring to pass the USCG inspection. The topsides were repainted with the boat’s log and other eye-catching graphics and the boat’s crew replaced the wood planking on the false deck. Then they returned the boat to the Columbia River where the boat was laid at the Tongue Point shipyard east of Astoria, and where WCT Marine has hauled out several local trawlers for maintenance over the winter.
Toledo Shipyard’s New Building Stands Tall with 70′ Entrance
As of late March, the Port of Toledo shipyard crew was putting the final touches on the new $5.1 million, 90-foot-tall marine service building that towers over the property on a narrow lot besides the Yaquina River. Despite the restrictions necessary to protect the workers against COVID-19, the construction continued through the winter with the systems for dust extraction and fire suppression the last items to be completed and checked.
The most visible feature is the vertically-folding “Megadoor,” supplied by Swedish manufacturer Assa Abloy. It consists of pleated fabric panels that fold into a compact bundle giving 70 feet of vertical clearance in the fully-raised position. The patented door was selected because of its ability to withstand coastal gales and saltwater corrosion, according to Port Manager Bud Shoemake.
The 70-foot-wide doorway permits the yard’s 600 long-ton ASCOM mobile lifter to enter the 80-foot x 150-foot floor space. The design includes an overhead crane track 80 feet above the floor with two five-ton hoists and a 20-foot x 40-foot extension that houses offices and sealed equipment storage areas. The building was pre-fabricated by Nucor Corp. of Utah and was purchased through contractor JH Kelly, LLC of Longview, Wash., which erected the massive, four-foot-wide vertical girders on a solid foundation consisting of 100-foot x 80-foot steel piles driven by Billeter Marine of Coos Bay. The maximum length of hull that the yard can handle is actually 120 feet, Shoemake explained, because of the narrow width of the property at the haul-out ramp.
The facility will give the yard the ability to conduct major welding, sandblasting and painting projects inside the fully-controlled environment.
“We are enthusiastic about the increased efficiency we will be able to provide our customers without impact from our unpredictable Oregon weather. This will provide more opportunities for year-round work to support the central Oregon coast economy and the regional fishing fleet,” said Shoemake.
The project was funded in part with grant dollars from the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Connect Oregon program, which also paid for an Italian lifter purchased in 2014.
Alaska and Oregon Manufacturers Stay Active
While construction of aluminum gillnetters and manufacture of their deck gear has continued to concentrate north of Seattle along the I-5 corridor and the Seattle area is home to many naval architects and specialist producers and distributors, there are still many interesting outliers providing unique marine services in Alaska, where the city of Homer has become a center for the marine trades.
Freestyle Marine is turning out high-performance 32-foot fiberglass gillnetter hulls, Freddy’s Marine has launched several glass seiners, and there are several experienced aluminum builders in the area. In Anchorage, Coastwise Corporation has been providing naval architecture and marine engineering services to the Alaska maritime industry for over 20 years. In southern Oregon there are also many versatile aluminum builders including North River Boats in Roseburg.
The Fred Wahl shipyard in Reedsport also produces a range of heavy-duty offshore deck gear, including cranes. In Astoria, Warren Junes hydraulic and machine works has been building a wide variety of hydraulic gear for crabbing, long lining, processing and custom machining for over 25 years. Across the Columbia River in Southwest Washington, Lowell Stambaugh has recently delivered a pair of Deflector high-lift rudders to a 58-foot Chignik-type seiner in Homer to improve steering in difficult conditions—especially when hauling the net in shallow water.