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AFSC Historical Corner:  Other Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Boats

Early Pioneers
Research and Mgmt.
The Albatross, 1882
Early BOF Patrol Boats
FWS Vessels
Newer Research Ships
Pribilof Tenders
Launches/Small Craft
Charters/Other Boats
Vessel Links

The King,  1949* - 1959

Scant information collected on the vessel suggests she was built sometime in the mid-1940s. The Bureau of Commercial Fisheries (BCF) fleet tables for 1957-59 indicate the 40-foot King was built in 1946 at a cost of $16,168 and was powered by a 175-hp engine.

The earliest account of the vessel's use by the FWS was that in 1949 she performed fisheries patrol work while stationed at the FWS King Salmon base on the Naknek River in Alaska. By 1957, she was being used for biological research and management work. The boat continued operating out of King Salmon until her transfer to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) in 1960 as a result of Alaska's recent statehood.

Note:  Two other sources refer to an unnamed 42- to 50-foot patrol boat built in 1944 for the FWS by students of the Edison Vocational School in Seatle, Washington. This vessel, possibly the King or Sockeye (below), was designed by naval architect Edwin Monk, with plans for a 200-hp gas engine.  (Pacific Motor Boat, June 1943 - and - GloryBe Restoration website)

The Sockeye,  1949* - 1970

The Sockeye.  Auke Bay Laboratory photo.

Not much is known about the Sockeye. Built in 1946, The 40-foot boat was powered by a 175-horsepower engine.

Around 1949, both she and the King (see above) were at Bristol Bay hauling building materials for a weir cabin project at the head of the Ugashik River. From 1949-71, the Sockeye appeared on annual vessel fleet rosters for the BCF and National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA) – headquartered out of King Salmon, used primarily for salmon research work around Bristol Bay and the upper Alaska Peninsula. Unlike the other FWS boats on this page, the Sockeye remained with the BCF thoughout the 1960s.
More photos in our Multimedia Gallery.

The Ibis II,  1951 - 1959

  Ibis II
Ibis II.  Photo from Pacific Motor Boat, Oct. 1951.

In 1951, the FWS received two additions to their Alaska fisheries fleet; the Ibis II and Auklet II. Both boats were built in Seattle, Washington, under the supervision of FWS vessel superintendent, Earl Bright. The design plans were drawn and submitted by local naval architect, William Garden.

Construction of the 24-foot long, 8-foot breadth, Ibis II was done in 1951 by "Chamber & Franck" boat builders. She was designed for use in the creeks, rivers and shallow coastal waters of Alaska. This was made possible by her semi-tunnel stern design which helped maintain a shallow 16-inch draft. The 12-13 mph cruising speed was provided by a 95 hp Chris-Craft gas engine of 230 cubic inches piston displacement.

Over the next 10 years the Ibis II was in Alaska used for fisheries patrol, salmon tagging and other research work based out of Chignik. As with many other FWS vessels, she was turned over to the State of Alaska (ADFG) in 1960 following Statehood.

The Skipjack,  1956* - 1959

Built in 1944, the Skipjack was a 42-foot wooden cruiser with a 175 hp engine. The earliest account of the Skipjack's FWS fisheries use was in 1956, when she joined four other research vessels on a reconnaissance oceanographic survey to study estuary systems found in fjords and deep inlets along the Alaska and British Columbia coasts. That year the Skipjack was assigned to the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, a newly created division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). One of her known FWS skippers was Robert Budke.

Based out of Cordova, Alaska, the boat was used for biological research and management activities until her transfer to the ADFG on 9 February 1960. At some time between 1965 and 1974, she was excessed by the ADFG. According to U.S. Coast Guard vessel documentation renewed in 2013 for the Skipjack (ID# 506566), she was at one time named the Cathy Jean and is recorded having a hull breadth of 10.6 feet, depth 4.6 feet, net tonnage 10, and her owner as residing in Tacoma, Washington.

The Capelin,  1957* - 1959

In 1956, new BCF division took control of the 40-foot Capelin. Though it is unclear when the boat originally became the property of the FWS, it is known that she was built in 1939 and was powered by a 145 hp engine in the mid-1950s. As a BCF vessel from 1957-59, the Capelin was used mainly for management duty out of Ketchikan, Alaska. She went to the ADFG in February 1960.

The Albacore,  1957* - 1959

As with the Capelin (above), all that is known about the Albacore is from the 1957-59 BCF fleet lists. The 40-foot boat was built in 1938 and had a 122-horsepower motor. Her known skippers included Les Meyers, who worked seasonally, and Jack Boone, a well-known artist in Seattle and Cordova. Prior to her 1960 move to the ADFG, the Albacore was based in Cordova and used by the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries for biological research. The auctioning of the 40-foot ADFG boat "M-V Albacore" (along with three others) was advertised in a September 1965 Petersburg, Alaska, newspaper -- minimum bids being $3,000 to $5,000 each.

The Mackinaw,  1957* - 1960

The Mackinaw in 1959.  Bill Heard, photographer.

Another BCF boat first mentioned in 1957 was the Mackinaw. She was built in 1929, at 52 feet in length, and having a 150-horsepower engine (while with the BCF). Prior to 1960, she was headquartered at Juneau, Alaska, operating in coastal waters primarily for management purposes. At the end of the 1950s the vessel also participated in some of the first oceanographic surveys of Auke Bay as part of the marine fish investigations in Southeast Alaska. Around 3:00 am on 20 June, 1960, the Mackinaw met her fate when she sank in Taku Inlet, approximately 10 miles southeast of Juneau. The vessel had run into rocks in waters 50-60 fathoms deep after the master-engineer fell asleep at the wheel.

The Shad,  1958 - 1959

The power barge Shad.  ADFG photo, 1974.

The 44-foot steel (boiler plate) power barge Shad was built in 1958 at the Duwamish Shipyard in Seattle and immediately began service with the BCF stationed at Juneau. Her flat-bottom scow design, which allowed her to be beached for loading and unloading, made her a valuable transport vessel for carrying freight, mobile equipment and passengers. Other specfications include:  breadth, 16 feet;  depth, 4.5 feet;  displacement, 11.7 tons gross fully loaded;  workload, 20 tons;  and 577 cubic feet of working deck space.

The BCF used the Shad for both management work and biological research. At one point in time she was headquartered at Cordova, Alaska, skippered by Hugh Hosek. The ADFG acquired the barge in March 1960 and swapped out her gas engine with a 85 bhp G.M. diesel in 1964. She was equipped with gear for pulling Dungeness crab pots and radar for conducting nighttime surveillance of closed fishing areas.

The Shad remained with the ADFG working out of Juneau through the early 1970s, and perhaps longer. A 1973 ADFG report recommended she be replaced, since the necessary work to increase the crew accommodations and storage areas, add new winches and perform needed hull repairs was estimated to cost between $25,000 and $35,000. A Petersburg newspaper announced the intended auctioning of the Shad by the ADFG slated for 2 October 1982. The current (2014) U.S. Coast Guard vessel documentation shows the Shad's owner residing in Juneau.

Other known FWS boats - each of which were transferred to the State of Alaska (ADFG) on 9 February 1960:

The Shearwater II.  Auke Bay Laboratory photo.

The Shearwater (II ?)  (FWS 156)

The Mackeral

The Baby Winn

The Grayling

The Humpy

The Steelhead

*   Earliest known year of government service in Alaska

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