The Alaska State Troopers’ largest patrol vessel is back in service after an engine upgrade in its home port of Dutch Harbor. The patrol vessel Stimson was out of commission for 10 days earlier this month during the overhaul.
Skipper Troy Magnusen says the patrol vessel’s engines were well past their prime.
“One of our engines was about 800 hours over rebuild time, and the other was about 1800 hours over,” he says.
So Magnusen says the engines were upgraded piece-by-piece while the vessel was in port. The project cost about $175,000.
There were no impacts to patrols, though the maintenance work did keep the troopers from helping respond to a maritime disaster — the grounding of the fishing vessel Arctic Hunter on November 1st.
Now that they’re up and running, Magnusen says the Stimson has one patrol left this year — though he couldn’t say when or where to avoid tipping off fishermen who might be breaking regulations.
“We do a lot of the Bering Sea patrols, for the king crab, opilio,” he says.
Next year, they’ll be back on their other beats.
“We do the Bristol Bay red salmon season in the summertime. We enforce the … Sand Point/False Pass area, for cod and salmon,” Magnusen says. “We run out to Adak a couple of times a year to do cod out that direction and also for the caribou season, the hunting season that they have out there, [and] search and rescues if needed.”
Even though there’s plenty of work for the Stimson in Western Alaska, the engine maintenance project reignited rumors that the troopers wanted to move the vessel elsewhere.
Operations commander Burke Waldron says it’s staying put for now. But he says there is some truth to those rumors.
“We are constantly evaluating where our boats, both large and small, airplanes and people are stationed, and if we can be more efficient or better serve the state by moving those assets or resources around,” Waldron says.
Kodiak is the homeport for the P/V Woldstad. Together, the Woldstad and Stimson cover Western Alaska.
Waldron says it makes sense to keep the Stimson where it is — so it can focus on the Chain.
“Right now it’s suited well for the Aleutian chain and Bristol Bay and Arctic fisheries patrols. [It] also, you know, provides public safety services to the Aleutian chain,” he says. “Obviously if we move the boat away from that region, that would have additional costs for us, and travel time, to get to some of those patrols.”
With money tight in the state right now, that’s something the troopers are trying to avoid. With their latest investment in the Stimson, Waldron says the troopers should be able to get a lot more work out of the vessel.