Proceedings Summer 2016
scouring or channels shifting from big spring run-
offs, keeping vessels from unintentionally ground-
ing during a transit. This "local knowledge" is then
shared with other Crowley vessels.
Other challenges stem from the lack of dock infra-
structure and port facilities. There are roughly
12 docks our vessels can tie up to with any type of
port facility, and most of those are located in the
Bristol Bay area. Once vessels get further west and
north, only the larger hubs of Nome and Kotzebue
have improved facilities and docks. This means that
most vessel types can't access these communities.
Instead, Crowley's crews either push to the beach or
bank with the barge, or they double anchor at some
locations to stay afloat, then float a hose to pump
petroleum products to shore.
When vessels push to the beach, the crews have to
plan transits carefully and monitor the tide, wind,
weather, and more to remain safe while delivering.
Typically, this means vessels transit the track line
Built for This Work
Crowley's newest double-hulled lighterage barge under construction at the shipyard.
Photo courtesy of Crowley by Captain Greg Pavellas.
The tug Avik skiff leads the way in the deep channel to the village of White Mountain,
Alaska. Photo courtesy of Crowley by Bill Snider.
"These boats are designed to run shallow and
operate where most vessels can't. If we have
water, we can continue to operate. Sometimes
progress is measured in feet made even at .2
knots across the flats, and sometimes we just
run out of water and have to wait for more
to come in to start moving again. The point
is: This is what the area offers, so we have
designed a system to operate successfully
within the parameters we are given," says
Crowley's Jeremy Grenville, captain.
Crowley's latest class of vessels is the Ikkat-
class tug, with "Ikkat" meaning "shallow" in
the Alaskan Inupiaq language. Crowley built
these vessels because the port infrastruc-
ture simply doesn't exist if repairs need to be
made. Instead, crews can pull the vessels onto
the beach to repair rudders and shafts, if need
be, and then get back to work.