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Northern Victor’s New Home In Unalaska May Help Processor Expand Operations

Zoe Sobel

For decades, the Northern Victor was a nomadic vessel.

It spent part of the year processing pollock in Unalaska’s Beaver Inlet. And the rest, it spent traveling back and forth from Seattle for maintenance.

That finally changed this season, when Icicle Seafoods had the boat drop its vagabond act and settle down at the dock for good.

KUCB stopped by the Northern Victor recently to see how its new home has affected business.

It’s a windy day on the Unalaska spit, with gusts reaching more than 90 miles per hour.

Workers on the Northern Victor have to hold onto their hard hats and shout to be heard. But David Marifern says the weather’s not nearly as bad as when they were floating way out in Beaver Inlet. 

"We’re pretty happy to be at the dock! I can tell you that," he says. 

Credit Google Maps
Prior to its move, the Norther Victor split the year between Udagak Bay (pictured) and Seattle.

Marifern is a manager on the vessel, which used to operate some 20 miles from town in remote Udagak Bay. 

"It was beautiful," he says. "The area around there is absolutely gorgeous. But a big problem was Unalga Pass. You know, the boats always going through the pass to deliver."

That journey got dicey during storms, making it hard for fishermen to drop off their pollock and for the Northern Victor to ship its frozen fillets. So after years of consideration, Icicle Seafoods decided to give its boat a permanent home inside city limits.

Marifern won’t share the cost of the move. But on the spit, he says the vessel can get everything more easily — from fish deliveries and mail to maintenance parts and employees.

"It opens up a lot of options," he says. "And it’ll give us room to grow, I guess."

Credit Zoe Sobel/KUCB
David Marifern is a manager on the Northern Victor. He says Icicle Seafoods is planning to install new factory equipment on the vessel this offseason.

Although Marifern wants to stay mum on the specifics, he says the vessel dabbled in cod processing for the first time this winter.

Icicle’s also planning to install new factory equipment and add a conveyor belt through the hull to offload product more efficiently.

The company’s still figuring out where the Northern Victor will fit into the profitable world of Unalaska’s shoreside processing. That’ll take some time, but Marifern says the boat is here to stay.

"We’ve always just been our own little thing out in Beaver Inlet," he says. "But now, I suppose we are one of the larger processors in Dutch. We’re happy to be a part of that."

City officials are happy, too. Members of the City Council say they’re eager to see how much revenue the Northern Victor will bring to town between taxes, utilities, and local employment.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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