The Norwegians are coming

Skipsteknisk is not a name familiar to most American fishermen and boat owners. But in the past couple of months, this Norwegian naval architecture company’s name, as well as the boats it is designing for American fishermen, has attracted attention.

With predictions for a number of catcher boats and longliners being built for the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska in the next 10 years, some domestic naval architects are looking uneasily at the sudden appearance of Norwegian designers building boats for American fishermen.

“Are American designers in competition with European? I think it will be an issue,” says Jonathan Parrott with Jensen Maritime Consultants in Seattle. Whatever the level of competition, there’s a general consensus that the Norwegian boats will certainly be different from what Americans are used to fishing on. The problem, says Kenny Down with Blue North Fisheries in Seattle, “is that U.S. designers have fallen behind the curve on innovations.”

So far, Skipsteknisk has contracts for two of its designs to be built in this country. Both will be going to the Bering Sea. One is a 194′ x 49′ stern trawler for the O’Hara Corp. in Rockland, Maine. The Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City, Fla., will build the Araho.

The Araho will be set up for both bottom and pelagic trawling with electric winches. She will be classed to Det Norske Veritas rules, including an ice classification that allows it to work through ice floes just under 2 feet thick. She’s expected to be completed in mid-2015.

Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes, Wash., is building the second boat, a 191′ x 42′ longliner for Blue North Fisheries in Seattle. She will also be DNV-classed with diesel-electric power and a pair of Schottel azimuth pods, each producing 1,000 horsepower.

An artist’s rendering of the Norwegian-designed 191-foot Bering Sea longliner Blue North.

The biggest departure from longliners currently fishing in Alaska is that the new boat’s hauling station will be completely inside. The ground line will bring fish — primarily cod — through the bottom of the boat. That will be a lot safer for the guy working the ground line, and it will be easier to take bycatch off the hooks and let them swim away.

The launch date for Blue North’s longliner is tentatively set for Oct. 1, 2014.

Will Skipsteknisk bring in more contracts? Undoubtedly. Will the new boats set the standard for state-of-the-art U.S. fishing-boat designs? For that we’ll have to wait a couple of years, but you can bet that designers in this country are going to be paying attention and maybe making some changes of their own.

About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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