Why fishing vessel commission was the logical choice

Reel connection

With a history closely linked to Norway, Glacier Fish Co. were always keen to team up with KONGSBERG

  • Gunvor Hatling Midtbø
    Vice President, Communications

Glacier Fish Co. manager of the North Star which celebrated 40 years of commercial fishing in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea this year, was started by a Norwegian, Erik Breivik, who initially went to the United States to use his experience to help develop the frozen-at-sea processing industry.

Naturally, the company had a long association with using Norwegian fishing equipment, particularly from KONGSBERG and its associated companies, so when Glacier Fish decided to commission a new fishing vessel, Kongsberg Maritime was one of the first companies they contacted.

Jim Johnson, President and CEO of Glacier Fish
“Our first two vessels, the Northern Glacier and the Pacific Glacier, were almost entirely outfitted with Norwegian equipment, so we have a long history with KONGSBERG and Bergen".
Jim Johnson, President and CEO of Glacier Fish

“For the new North Star vessel, we looked at a number of options but decided we needed a highly capable system integrator to manage the multiple vendors and to make it all work together. We made a trip to Norway and met with Kongsberg Maritime’s predecessor company, Rolls-Royce Marine, and talked a lot about our experiences with their equipment and how it was important to us that it truly was an integrated ships package – we wanted one organisation to take ownership and manage the entire integration process. After discussions, we were confident that this would be the case with KONGSBERG and so a contract was signed in December 2015.”

However, while construction of the North Star went to plan at the Panama City shipyard in Florida, and the ship was being readied for delivery in late 2018, disaster struck and the vessel was severely damaged during Hurricane Michael.

It took nearly two months for a salvage team to refloat her and to establish a plan to repair the damage.

Rebuilding was incredibly challenging and even more so under – the Covid-19 pandemic – as Jim explains: “It was like ‘round two’ in a boxing match, because when we got to the commissioning phase again, we were right in the middle of Covid and the myriad of global restrictions.

“KONGSBERG showed a deep appreciation for the struggles we had been through with the damage to the vessel and they did everything possible to get people and resources where they needed to be to help push the commissioning of the vessel forward in what was an incredibly difficult time to operate globally".

“We took delivery of the ship on 1 April 2021 and then we outfitted the vessel in Seattle with the Carsoe factory, and she departed from there in September for her first maiden fishing trip.

“Because of the dramatic story of this vessel, the commissioning of the North Star was a very long and painful process but we felt that absolutely made the right choice with having an integrated ship package from KONGSBERG, as they worked as one seamless team with us from the beginning.”

Jim Johnson, President and CEO of Glacier Fish, says: “As we have cruise passengers going past our building, we thought we could do something visually to promote the industry as a whole and decided to get our marketing association involved, Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers, along with the Port of Seattle. Together, we created the vision for the 100-foot-long mural and commissioned Kyler Martz, a well-known Seattle artist who has done numerous landmark murals around the city, to come up with a design.

“His design, titled ‘Heritage’, is very colourful and looks a lot like an old-fashioned salmon can, which has also channelled a lot of Seattle’s maritime history into the design. It’s really creative and has already become a Seattle landmark.”

At the official unveiling of the mural, Kelli Goodwin, Maritime Operations Senior Manager with the Port of Seattle, says: “With this mural we’ve definitely made our mark loud and proud on the Seattle skyline indefinitely. Many Seattleites and visitors probably didn’t know that Wild Alaska Pollock has such strong ties to Seattle. Now everyone can join us in celebrating the name and what our fish both brings to the tables of consumers around the world and means to the local economy.”

Read more about North Star Fishing Co. and Glacier Fish Co. here.

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