600-foot dock slated for Dutch Harbor will serve Arctic petroleum explorers

Jim PaulinDutch Harbor Fisherman
The new dock site in Dutch Harbor. Jim Paulin Photo

UNALASKA -- Another big industrial development project took a step forward last month, when the Unalaska Planning Commission subdivided a tidelands tract to allow for the eventual construction of a 600-foot-long dock and a large warehouse.

The site is adjacent to the property of the applicant, Offshore Systems Inc., next to Northland Services’ barge and container yard, and a unique dock that serves as the local home of Shell’s oil rig Kulluk. Both the Northland shipping container yard and the oil support site are located on tidelands previously filled in with dumptruck loads of gravel.

Offshore Systems spokesman Jim Butler said that the dock is intended to serve the company’s existing customer base of commercial fishing -- not just oil company activities. The company provides dock and warehouse services and sells marine fuel to the factory trawlers of Trident Seafoods and Fishing Company of Alaska, as well as various catcher boats, cargo ships, and oil support vessels.

Butler said it’s too early to say when the dock will be built since it’s still at the “drawing board” phase and in the permitting process.

Unalaska Planning Director Erin Reinders said the project will also require a lease of city-owned tidelands.

The proposed development  includes an 80-by-400-foot warehouse and a 50-by-400-foot dock in an area expected to grow as a base for offshore oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean. While those oil exploration sites are 1,000 miles to the north, Unalaska/Dutch Harbor is the closest port with year-round open water and such large-scale maritime facilities as docks, cranes and marine fuel.

Long-range city plans call for paving the four-mile-long Captains Bay Road. The dirt road is the home of a big seafood plant, two major private docks, a quarry, and a fishing gear storage area marked by towering stacks of heavy steel crab pots.

Jim Paulin can be reached at jpaulin(at)reportalaska.com