KETCHIKAN – On Saturday, Sen. Bert Stedman toured a new dock that is being built for the NOAA Ship Fairweather with Sen. Dan Sullivan, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Chief of Staff Michael Walsh Jr., and Borough Mayor Rodney Dial. They all have been working diligently to ensure that the vessel is homeported at a new dock in Ketchikan.
This will bring jobs and economic activity to the community after 20 years of planning. This will be a good boost to the economy that comes just in time as the community has suffered major losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and loss of tourism and other business revenues.
“My office has worked on this project since appropriating the state funding for it in 2012,” Stedman said. “We have been working very well with Senator Sullivan, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Mayor Dial for the last several years to bring the project across the finish line. I’m glad that after years of pushing for this project we have Phase I – demolishing the old dock—ready to go.”
At the federal level, Sullivan secured a commitment from Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to make this project a priority for NOAA.
“I thank Senator Sullivan and the congressional delegation for making completion of this project a priority. The next critical step is securing funding for the new dock and prioritizing the project in the next NOAA agency budget bill. That bill is due to pass Congress by October 1, 2020,” Stedman said.
In 2001, federal law sponsored by former Senator Stevens required the NOAA vessel Fairweather to be homeported in Ketchikan. NOAA owns uplands and a dock at 1010 Stedman Street in Ketchikan. The dock is old and unusable. Stedman sponsored an appropriation in 2012 of $7.5 million in state general fund dollars to the Borough for a new NOAA homeport facility. In 2018, Sullivan added language to the USCG Reauthorization Act allowing NOAA to accept and spend non-federal funds to build a new dock for NOAA in Ketchikan. Then in 2020, the Ketchikan Borough transferred approximately $7 million to NOAA for the agency to take over the project and build the dock.
The Fairweather is a hydrographic survey vessel that maps the ocean to support safe navigation and commerce. Officers, technicians, and scientists aboard the vessel collect data that NOAA cartographers use to create and update the nation’s nautical charts. The Fairweather was constructed at the Jacksonville Shipyards in Florida and christened in March 1967. The Fairweather was named after Alaska’s Mt. Fairweather. The vessel was commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard and Geodetic Survey in October 1968 at the Pacific Marine Center in Seattle.