Success broke at midnight, at a pace, so gruelingly subtle, the human eye had to fix on something to witness progress. It was the culmination of a day’s worth of will, of crews, both foreign and domestic, tying off lines, welding-in supports, clambering from Norwegian ship “Pacific Dawn” to barge to deep draft dock in winds that flung flags full sail and a single tide that raised all vessels 28 feet.
Anticipation, caution, were worn on the faces of supervisors and crew, in each passing second, as they strained to catch a first glimpse of what surely must be King Kong rising out of a foreign ship’s hold at Port MacKenzie, Alaska.
For 3.2 miles this submarine cable will stretch across the sea floor of Upper Cook Inlet, connecting wind power turbines on Fire Island to a power grid in Anchorage near the Kincaid chalet. It’s the $5.4 million dollar cargo of Fire Island Wind, a subsidiary of CIRI.
In the glow of ship lights near the dawn of a new day, it became visible: 220-tons of continuous cable, wrapped in circles for 3.4 miles, on a giant spool the size of a house. And there’s 2 on board.
Offloading the massive weight from ship to barge required a symphony of logistics between two operators in pedestal cranes, on board, operating the cranes at their working limit, in tandem, and a first mate on deck who moved nimbly near cargo that could crush him flat.
We’re just trying to do it safely First Mate on Deck
The 50-foot wide ship would roll if it were not for a pontoon flooded with water on the other side to counterbalance the heavy load traveling 40 feet overboard.
The weight of the giant spool is dispersed in what looks like a kid's mobile of the planets, except the strings and wooden pieces are spreader beams and steel rigging.
PacArctic Logistics, one of the port’s new lessees, was the terminal operator at Port MacKenzie for the first time, offloading the ship.
PacArctic Logistics was the Terminal Operator
This was the first time a ship was refueled at Port MacKenzie. And certainly it was the first heavy lift of its kind. But more firsts continue as young Port MacKenzie gets strong legs under it.
Two other ships tied up in May. Off came a crane, capable of lifting 220 tons. The crane, leased by PacArctic Logistics, will remain at Port MacKenzie creating tremendous opportunity. The new crane went to work offloading 60 loads of logs from Spruce Island near Kodiak, harvested from the clearing of the Ouzinkie Village airport. The wood imports will go to the local Valley Saw Mill for a variety of uses.
The third vessel offloaded five scrapers, heavy equipment that has already gone to work building embankments for the coming Port MacKenzie Rail Extension. The 32-mile rail link from Alaska railroad to tidewater will help diversify Alaska’s economy with mineral exports and potentially a cement industry.