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Friday, April 25, 2008

Alaskan Adventure - M/V Independence

By Thursday the Independence had moved away from Adak and was at the next island over… the Great Sitkin Island. This was so it would be closer to the fishing ships that were bringing cod to be processed. There is a finite time from when a cod is caught until it’s no good…so, the closer the processer the better.

The Bowfin, a freezer ship that works with the Indy, brought the corporate guys back to catch the Thursday flight and I rode back on it. The trip took about 3 hours. Not much to do, I munched fresh baked chocolate chip cookies…got caught up on the gossip magazines…and was lulled into a nap by the rocking of the ship.

The second ship with the Independence is the Eastern Wind. I never made it over there. It would come along side when the Bowfin wasn’t there.

The safest (and fastest) way to go from one ship to another is in “the basket”. This is a canvas net contraption with a solid base that is hoisted by one of the cranes to move people and things back and forth. Fun!

The M/V Independence is one of the processors in Trident’s fleet. It’s 356 feet long by 61 feet wide (or almost as long as a football field and a bit more than a third as wide). I think it’s 6 stories tall from the waterline, with some engine stuff lower.

The deck is where processing starts. It’s where pallets and totes are stored. In fact, it’s where a lot of things are stored including the skiff. It’s where seagulls and eagles perch. And it is where I spent a considerable amount of time, especially when we were in the Inner Passages where it warmed up to the 40s.

I also spent a lot of time up on the bridge/pilot house watching things happen and visiting. And listening to stories.

This is the captain’s seat.

The factory is in the lower decks of the ship and is where the fish are processed. More about that later when I write about processing.

The galley was my favorite place at 10:30am (lunch – or brunch for me) and at 4:30pm for supper. Luis always had at least 2 entrees tho it was usually 3, a fresh soup, some sort of potato, veggies, brown beans, rice and a dessert – most often a cake or a Jell-O salad. Breakfast was from 5-7am (NO THANK YOU!) and late supper was from 11pm – 1am. (This picture is a shot taken by Himself on an earlier trip).

Himself’s office was 10 steps and one stairway from my room. Medical clinic, personal quarters, email cafĂ© and coffee house all rolled up in one.

My room was a gift! Vic – who is the ship manager (I think that is his title) – was kind enough to let me use his private room for my stay. Wow!

Everyone who comes aboard the ship has to participate in the lifesaving drills. First was learning how to put on the immersion suit (aka Gumby Suit).

This is what will keep you alive in the terrible cold of arctic waters.

Then you learn where your life raft is located...

...and the procedure for abandoning ship.

And finally you are taught what to do if someone falls overboard. Which is take this ring, throw it to them while screaming your lungs out “Man Overboard” and pointing to their location. You never take your eyes off them.

The hard reality of these drills hit home 11 days after I came on board, something I will write about in a later post.


  1. Great site! Add more ! :)

  2. I sailed on the Independence on its maiden voyage from Seattle to Akutan Bay Alaska . We went through the inside passage and then cut straight across to the heart of the Aleutian chain in 40 foot seas . When we would go over the waves it would pull the props out of the water and the whole ship would shake causing things like Lockers and beds to come loose and bounce around in the Berthings . We also didn't have enough ballast in the tanks and the ship snap rolled like you wouldn't believe . It would start rolling back and forth until the sponson deck filled up with water and then slowly drained so we could start the whole process over again . I think I was making 5.25 an hour with my extra .25 an hour for being a deckhand .

    It looks like they have made some changes along the railings but other than that she looks pretty much the same as she did in 1991 .

    By the way , the Gumby suit will keep you a lot warmer than a decksuit will when you go in the water ;)

  3. my name is Angelo I used to work for the Trident seafoods on the Indy I was a deckhand but I was a processor at when I first started, I worked pretty much all around that ship, I enjoyed my time aboard, i plan on working for that Trident soon e-mail me if you have any questions about the Indy or anything about my experiences while I was working there


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