After multiple delays, the new city dock is open for business. The renovation of positions 3 and 4 at the Unalaska Marine Center met substantial completion Monday.
“We can schedule it," said Ports Director Peggy McLaughlin. "It’s completely available for cargo operations, fishing vessel offloads, fueling, tying alongside, transfers of whatever might be required. We’re good to go.”
Construction on the $39 million project began in June 2017 and McLaughlin said is still within budget.
Having the dock renovation completed she said is huge.
“One of the things we’ve always struggled with is the timing of being able to work all the vessels that require goods put on, fishing products taken off, container operations, and fueling operations," McLaughling said. "[It was hard] juggling all that where we didn’t have uplands support. Now we have a place for people to stage their stuff going on the ship or to put containers to pull products off their vessels.”
In the past, McLaughlin said there was a 10-day cycle of vessels lining up for space at the dock. At times, she said the city would send export ships back out to anchor when Matson’s D7 came in to deliver local groceries and cargo.
Now, the Unalaska Marine Center has two additional acres of laydown area. There’s 1,600 linear feet of dock space, 800 feet of crane rail, and 168 hours a week available for scheduling.
“There’s been times in the last couple years where we've had to raft vessels outside of each other to work cargo from one vessel to the other vessel rather than longside," McLaughlin said. "So there’s safety factors there that having more space to work enhances those opportunities too. It’s safer. It’s greener because vessels can come in and tie up. They’re not burning fuel jogging around. All those good things”
While the project still has a couple items left to tackle before final completion is achieved, McLaughlin said it’s possible the new dock could see its first users as soon as Wednesday.