Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shipping News – the Faithful Servant and American Dynasty Are One

The Faithful Servant is a submersible barge that has been converted to function as a drydock, enabling Fairhaven Shipyard to service large vessels, such as full-size Alaska Ferries. To service these large vessels, the barge is towed out to the middle of Bellingham Bay, and lowered. Then, the oncoming vessel is floated above the barge as it’s raised, and then the barge is towed back to the shipyard.

Pictured here is the fishing vessel American Dynasty, just loaded onto the Faithful Servant. American Dynasty is part of a large fleet of fishing vessels owned by American Seafood Company. This fleet is the largest “harvester” in the U.S. Bering Sea fishery, and it frequents waters of the south Pacific, near Chile. This vessel often docks at our own Bellingham Cold Storage to unload fish. It is equipped with a large pelagic trawl, allowing huge catches. A pelagic trawl is operated in midwater depths, pulling a cone-shaped net, typically harvesting Alaskan Pollock, pacific cod, pacific whiting, flatfish, and salmon. Trawls are indiscriminate: whatever ends up in the net lands on the vessel. What can’t be used is called bycatch, most of which is accidentally killed, and thrown away. Many studies have documented large volumes of bycatch, which is discarded.


As your Waterkeeper, we keep an eye on pollution generated by the shipyard operation. Fairhaven Shipyards operates under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Waste Discharge Permit, permit number WA-003134-8. This is a permit to pollute. Some amount of pollution is allowed, but the shipyard must take regular samples of their discharges and process water, and they have to take a lot of protective steps, known as best management practices (BMPs, for short).

We’re most concerned that emissions, grit, and dust from sandblasting, spray painting, and grinding operations don’t end up in our water. The shipyard is supposed to conduct these operations in a shed, or install plastic barriers around the vessel. The barriers are supposed to be secured and weighted down so they stand up to strong winds. All the spent paint, paint chips, metal grindings, and dusts are supposed to be kept out of the water.

If you’re interested in helping us watch these operations, please let us know. I can be reached at leef@re-sources.org

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