Goldbelt Transportation has added another vessel to its fleet of passenger boats. The Seawolf was christened in a ceremony Sunday at the Seadrome Marina in downtown Juneau and will begin sailing as soon as it receives its certification from the Coast Guard.
The ship’s main route will be transporting Coeur Alaska employees from Yankee Cove to Kensington Gold Mine north of Juneau.
Goldbelt Transportation has been providing transportation services for Coeur since 2008, according to Jan Trigg, manager of external affairs for Coeur Alaska, making daily trips to the mine. But with only one vessel, Goldbelt could not always provide service if something went wrong with the boat.
Goldbelt Transportation is a subsidiary of Goldbelt Inc., an Alaska Native owned for-profit corporation with over 3,000 shareholders nationwide of Tlingit and Haida decent.
“Previously, we just had one vessel,” Goldbelt Communications Specialist Laura Steele said. “If we had mechanical issues or if there’s regularly scheduled maintenance, if there was something else where it needed to be pulled out of the water, that could interrupt the schedule.”
Having a second vessel also opens up the opportunity to expand Goldbelt Transportation’s operations to other routes or tourism.
“The opportunity is now there,” Steele said. “That could mean tourism, it could mean water taxi service. We’re really excited about the opportunity.”
Before the ship can start moving passengers, it needs a certificate of inspection from the Coast Guard.
“Right now we’re training crew, we’ve been training for the past couple weeks, learning the new boat,” Captain Clint Songer, Goldbelt Transportation manager, said. Songer told the Empire Monday he and his crew would be running drills with the Coast Guard in order to obtain their certification.
Certificates of inspection are required under federal law for boats carrying anything over six passengers, Nicholas Capuzzi, Public Affairs Officer for Coast Guard Sector Juneau said.
“(Inspectors) will look at the material condition of the vessel, put the crew through some drills,” Capuzzi said. “Drills will include man-overboard drill, abandon ship drill and an on board fire-fighting drill.”
Capuzzi said because of the tourism industry, there are already a number of boats in the Juneau area with the same certification.
“It’s a new boat but not a new process,” he said.
For Goldbelt, as soon as they’re certified they hope to start transporting passengers.
“As soon we get the paper work we’re going to start doing our Kensington routes,” Songer said.
Goldbelt purchased the ship from Homer-based Bay Weld Boats; Goldbelt did not share the cost of the Seawolf publicly. According to the Homer News, the Seawolf is Bay Weld’s largest vessel to date at 75 feet long, 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide.
Steele said Goldbelt was very pleased they were able to work with an Alaska-based business.
“Working with Alaska-made business, we’re all very aware of the impact that has on our economy,” Steele said. “Working with Alaska-based businesses is good for everybody, it’s not always economically feasible but when we can we’re happy to do it. A rising tide lifts all boats.”
Songer said that he made at least a dozen trips to Homer during the boat’s construction and that the staff at Bay Weld were very collaborative.
“We’re incredibly proud to say that our new vessel was made in Alaska, by Alaskans, for Alaskans,” Songer said in a release.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.