Repairing Alaska's Boats: Alaska Ship and Drydock Inc.

Author:BONHAM, NICOLE A.
 
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When the pulp mill closed in Ketchikan, eyes turned to Alaska Ship and Drydock Inc. to pick up the slack in a community where the number of skilled labor opportunities had dropped dramatically.

Now, several years later, the shipyard is a viable cornerstone in Southeast's industrial infrastructure--and a valued player on the Pacific ship repair scene.

An independent corporation owned by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority and supported by the local borough and city, the shipyard's direct economic impact to the Ketchikan economy came in at $9.4 million last year.

In an economic profile provided by the corporation, ASD has averaged 29 percent growth in annual gross revenues since 1994, from $2.4 million that year to $14.9 million for 1999. Its work force jumped from 25 workers in 1994 to 109 full-time equivalent jobs last year, with 1999 peak employment at 150 workers. Last year's employment totaled $4.6 million in annual payroll, with local spending for goods and services to support ship repair estimated at $3.8 million. The company reports another $1 million spent locally last year by the ships' crews and technical staff visiting Ketchikan to support vessel repair.

Alaska Ship and Drydock Inc. President Randy Johnson is optimistic regarding the shipyard's future and its place as an Alaska work center.

The shipyard's emphasis on medium and large Alaska-based vessels allows it to develop and maintain a stable and capable work force along with the necessary infrastructure, according to Johnson. He also noted the shipyard always tries to make space on the dry dock for the smaller commercial projects, especially emergency repairs.

"Most of the customers who operate in Alaska who have been in the Ketchikan shipyard are happy to return because of our skilled and productive work force," he said. "We are going to continue our efforts to prove that the Alaska ship repair industry is here to save ship owners time and money so they can grow and create more jobs in our state."

A comprehensive shipyard development plan calls for improving shipyard infrastructure in two areas. First, to "provide basic employee facilities and expand enclosed machine shop and production facilities." Second, to "provide multiple, upland repair-berths and an enclosed ship-repair hall." Construction for Stage One is set to start in September.

Shipyard facilities currently include a single, 10,000 long-ton (a long-ton equals 2,240 pounds) floating dry dock...

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