Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fresh Starts

By Chris Philips, Managing Editor, Pacific Maritime Magazine

Spring has finally arrived on the West Coast. (Summer has apparently been spotted in several Midwest and East Coast locales, but so have tornadoes, so we should count our blessings.)

With spring comes rebirth – a reawakening of the earth after a particularly bleak winter. Signs of this reawakening are everywhere, even in the maritime industry.

One company experiencing a rebirth is the venerable Black Ball Ferry Line, operator of the M/V Coho, a vehicle and passenger ferry that travels between Port Angeles, Washington and Victoria, British Columbia.

The 341-foot by 72-foot Coho was designed by renowned naval architecture firm Philip F. Spaulding & Associates of Seattle, and made her first commercial sailing to Victoria, BC on December 29, 1959.

Earlier this year Black Ball announced that its current executive management team has agreed to purchase the company from the Oregon State University Foundation, which had held the company since it was bequeathed to the Foundation by former owner in 2004.

“Our management team will continue a strong commitment to the local community, the employees and culture of Black Ball Ferry Line,” said Ryan Burles, President of Black Ball Ferry Line. “We will ‘stay the course’ while continuing to improve our service and invest in the future.”

The M/V Coho has a capacity of 110 vehicles and 1,000 passengers, and during her more than 50 years of service the ferry has transported more than 22 million passengers and six million vehicles. Originally outfitted with two 2,080 BHP Cooper-Bessemer diesel engines, the vessel was repowered in 2004 with two General Motors EMD Engines rated at 2,550 BHP each.

Black Ball employs more than 120 people, and transports 400,000 passengers and 120,000 vehicles annually, with an estimated yearly economic impact of more than $160 million within the local communities.

Philips Publishing Group congratulates the new owners on their historic acquisition. We look forward to producing our first issue of the company’s onboard magazine, M/V Coho Magazine, the first issue of which will be available this spring.

Another company celebrating spring is Fremont Maritime Services. Founded by Captain Jon Kjaerulff in 1989 to provide safety and survival training to mariners sailing in Alaska and along the Pacific Coast, the Seattle-based maritime safety and fire training organization has opened a new, state-of-the-art training facility in Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal.

Captain Kjaerulff holds a US Coast Guard-issued license as Master of inspected vessels to 1,600 tons, and Chief Mate of inspected vessels of any tons. He is a 1983 graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY and has sailed as captain and licensed ship’s officer on a variety of civilian and naval vessels operating in numerous trades all over the world. His first fishing vessel safety program, the Survival Afloat Seminar, was specifically designed to provide training to crews of fishing vessels under 100 feet. Since then the academy has built a fire training simulator, the M/V Fire Dragon and added basic and advanced firefighting courses, towing vessel responsible carrier and STCW refresher programs, as well as many more USCG-approved programs.

Over the past 23 years Fremont Maritime has started and extinguished thousands of fires while preparing its student mariners for the real thing. The school has provided training to thousands of mariners and hundreds of companies including Alaska Tanker Company, the previously mentioned Black Ball Ferry Line, Dunlap Towing, Foss Maritime and Harley Marine Services. The training center has also trained crews from the US Army, Navy and Coast Guard.

With success comes the need for expanded facilities, and the new Fishermen’s Terminal location offers two 24-student classrooms with flat screen monitors for video conferencing and equipment display. The new site also provides easy water access and more parking, while a student shuttle offers quick access to the Fire Dragon, less than a mile away.

The success of Fremont Maritime Services indicates the quality of training the facility has provided over the years, and speaks well of the commercial fishing and maritime companies that train their crews to be safe on the water.