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6/28/2019
A beneficial tool

The Ketchikan Shipyard is a tremendous asset for Southeast Alaska and many of the vessels that transit through this region and beyond.

Built and expanded with public funds, the 25-acre site is owned by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority and is operated via public private partnership by Vigor Alaska, a subsidiary of Vigor Industrial.

It’s a proven facility for maintaining the ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway System and a wide variety of other vessels. It’s proven to be a capable builder of vessels for the public and private sector.

Ship repair, maintenence and new construction is not an easy business to be involved with at present. For the Ketchikan Shipyard in particular, state budgetary turmoil is expected to soon curtail operations of the Alaska Marine Highway System — the shipyard’s core customer.

Outside of AMHS, the broader maritime industry is evolving, Vigor officials recently told a Ketchikan audience. Many shipyards are chasing what work is currently and anticipated to soon be available.

We appreciate that Vigor is working to find maritime and non-maritime work that could be done at the Ketchikan Shipyard. Their success in doing so means jobs in Ketchikan and the continued success of a facility that’s seen substantial public investment.

In this difficult marketplace, Vigor needs tools that can help attract customers to the Ketchikan Shipyard.

On Wednesday, the AIDEA board approved what could be a very beneficial tool.

It’s a new $10 million financing program within AIDEA that will offer  6-month to 24-month financing that can be used only for ship repair, conversion, and maintenance work in support of Alaska shipyards.

Vessel owners that are approved for loans will be able to borrow from $150,000 to as much as $1.5 million per note issued under the “AK SHIP” program, according to AIDEA.

The new, three-year revolving fund program is “especially targeted to meet the seasonal financing needs of the state’s industrial and commercial fleet owners, and to facilitate scheduled maintenance cycle work at Alaska shipyards, according to an AIDEA announcement Wednesday.

We’re not involved in finance, but this sounds like a program that could appeal to vessel owners who are looking at all factors involved in deciding where to accomplish needed work.

If AIDEA can provide favorable financing to vetted customers, this could be a winner for all involved.

We hope it is. Kudos to the AIDEA board and staff for bringing this concept to the table and now into action.

It’s something tangible that could help in the near future, similar to a long-sought change in U.S. Coast Guard rules that could allow for work on Coast Guard vessels at the Ketchikan Shipyard. Given that big new-build projects aren’t appearing on the horizon, these tools are needed to help secure a stream of smaller projects that can help keep the Ketchikan Shipyard in good health.