Shipyard projects benefit whole state

  • Sunday, February 9, 2014 5:05pm
  • Opinion

Ketchikan’s shipyard has widespread support throughout the state.

It will need it to acquire $3 million from the Legislature this session.

But, if it can get this money — money it can’t get anywhere else — it will be spent to improve the shipyard’s operation, increasing the amount of work that can be done there. Increased work signals a growing business with an encouraging future, and if the businesses in Ketchikan can be described such, then the community is economically well.

The community has been strongly in support of the shipyard for decades, most evidently in its granting competitive electrical rates and tax relief. Stipulated in a 30-year agreement between the City of Ketchikan, Ketchikan Public Utilities, Ketchikan Gateway Borough and the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which owns the shipyard operated by Vigor Alaska, the shipyard receives rates that allow it to be competitive against other shipyards.

The shipyard plans to build a new open air land-level berth. Construction requires relocating an electrical power substation, which is 26 years old. The substation is located in the middle of where the new berth would be constructed. Moving the electrical equipment would result in its being updated, which would improve efficiency and allow for the capacity of higher electrical loads. Improved capacity will be necessary as the shipyard continues to be developed.

And it will continue to develop. It is necessary infrastructure in a state with a maritime economy. Private, state and federal vessels can be repaired, maintained and built at the shipyard. They encompass every type of vessel from ferries, fishing boats, barges and U.S. Coast Guard cutters.

With the shipyard here, maritime operators do not have to make a trip to Seattle or elsewhere for service in most cases. This is especially important during the busiest times for the year for the maritime industry. It also means shipyard jobs are in Ketchikan and not out of state. Increasing development in the Arctic area of Alaska also increases the value of the shipyard operations by reducing the distance to shipyard services for vessels that operate there. That activity will only increase.

The shipyard is an ongoing project. It has been a community priority for decades, increasing its capabilities and contribution to the community and the state with each improvement. The state, through its legislators, should continue to build upon its investment in Ketchikan Shipyard. While it is an asset to Ketchikan, it serves the whole state.

— Ketchikan Daily News,

Feb. 1

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