Northwest Marine Christens Barge Alaska
The second major barge to be built by Northwest Marine Iron Works' facility in Portland, Ore., in 1976, was recently christened. The barge Alaska, which cost approximately $8 million, received the traditional champagne christening blow from Mrs. Bella Gardiner Hammond, the wife of Alaska Governor Jay Hammond. The 400-foot-long barge will join its twin, the barge Oregon, on cargo voyages between Oregon and Alaska. Owner of the barges is Crowley Maritime Corp.
Northwest Marine Iron Works cut construction time on the barge Alaska to 9y2 months, as it refined techniques on a novel barge construction and launch system. The system got its initial test in the year-long construction of the barge Oregon, which was launched last February. The barge construction and launch system was developed by Northwest Marine Iron Works and the Port of Portland at a cost of $750,000.
When Northwest Marine Iron Works accepted the project two years ago, it was faced with the problem of building the two barges within the existing confines of a shipyard that had not been geared for construction of barges.
Developed was a system whereby a barge would be built in sections at Northwest Marine Iron Works' fabrication shop. The sections were then transported to a nearby assembly area via a hydraulic walking machine and welded together.
A total of 15 sections were fabricated. Each of the sections was moved out of the fabrication shop by the hydraulic walking machine, which is capable of making 360-degree turns.
Each section weighed 180 tons and measured 80 feet wide (the width of the barge), 25 feet high (the depth of the barge's hull), and 25 feet long. The barge was built from stern to bow.
Utilized for launching was an existing drydock. The barge was moved along a transfer system— essentially trackage with rollers into it—onto a cribbing built on the deck of a drydock, which is 660 feet by 114 feet. The drydock was then submerged, launching the barge in a controlled situation. The barge Alaska will be used by Crowley Maritime's subsidiary, Pacific Alaska Line, to carry general commercial cargo from Portland to Alaska. The barge will return to Portland from Alaska laden with urea, a base material for the production of fertilizer.