Alaska Marine Lines upgrades four rail barges

Written by Marine Log Staff
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Alaska Marine Lines rail barge

Four Alaska Marine Lines rail barges are getting upgrades that include new piping and ballast systems designed by Glosten with installation by Meridian Marine Industries.

Using a patented rack system, the rail barges transport containers and rail cars from Seattle to Whittier, Alaska, where the rail cars are rolled onto the train tracks.

“The rail barges are hitting 20 years of service and were in need of some upgrades,” says John Maketa, the company’s Port Engineer in Seattle. “These barges are the backbone of our rail operations and Central Alaska service. The updates will prepare them for another 20 years of service.”

Two barges, the Anchorage Provider and Whittier Provider, already have the new piping systems installed. The Fairbanks Provider is scheduled for updates in August and the Nana Provider sometime next year.

The ballast systems are a network of valves, pipes and pumps below deck on all Alaska Marine Lines rail barges. The tanks are filled with fresh water to trim the barge before sailing. With six 1,200-ton ballast tanks on each barge, a total weight of 2,400 tons of water is moved between tanks to trim the barge for efficient towing.

Each rail barge is receiving the following services and updates:

  • New ballast system, including all valves and actuators. An actuator is an attached electrical motor that allows the valves to be operated and monitored remotely. The operations crews can operate the system from on deck without going into the pump room.
  • System modifications to add ballast water treatment systems in the future.
  • New wave wall doors to protect the generator.
  • Rebuilt valves in the spill containment system with modifications that will allow inspection and repair in the future.
  • Removal of excessive hull paint built up by 20 years of paint jobs.
  • Removal of generators for complete inspections and replacement of worn parts.
  • Fuel tanks cleaned and refurbished.
  • Complete recoating of all ballast tanks.

“John has done a great job coordinating these updates, including planning, vendor selection, material logistics and scheduling with operations for maintenance windows to work on the four barges,” says Marine Maintenance Manager David Byrne. “We are known for our exceptionally well-maintained and reliable equipment and these upgrades and renovations allow us to maintain that reputation with our customers.”

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