You may have noticed the large, blue boat with balloons in Fisherman’s Terminal recently and wondered what the ruckus was about. The F/V Blue North, owned by Blue North Fisheries, is one of the newest additions to the commercial fishing fleet from the yards of the Pacific Northwest, and we got a good look at her in Seattle before she went on her way to sea trials. Her christening is scheduled for the spring, after which she will hopefully live a long and profitable life in the North Pacific chasing down cod and whatever fills the hold.
The state-of-the-art, 191-foot, $35-plus-million freezer longliner has a ton of features that may be signs of the fishing boats of the future. Safety features include a climate-controlled indoor working space to gaff each fish that comes into an internal moon pool, which means crews will no longer have to brave the elements on an outdoor working deck. The moon pool is a five-foot diameter opening in the hull that allows the crew to retrieve the gear from inside the vessel.
An Optimar “Electro Stunner” even ensures humane harvesting of the catch, which also has the added benefit of gentle handling and less bruising of the fish. Thanks to the greater technological advancements in processing aboard the F/V Blue North, less fish waste will be produced. Cod skin, fish stomachs and livers, fish roe, and swim bladders are considered delicacies for cultures abroad, and bringing those products to market instead of throwing them overboard as waste will add a lot to the company’s bottom line (while being less wasteful).
The F/V Blue North is Blue North Fisheries’ first purpose-built bottom longline freezer/processor and the first in the United States to have molded hull construction. The soft chines and molded hull are unusual for the West Coast fleet, and some of the steel’s compound curves allegedly exceeded the capacity of the shipyard to produce in-house. The F/V Blue North was designed by the Norway-based naval architecture firm Shipsteknisk AS, and is the company’s third deep sea longliner.
What’s more, the F/V Blue North is powered by an unconventional diesel-electric propulsion (DEP) system. While traditional diesel engines directly power the drives mechanically, the Siemen’s BLUEDRIVE system utilizes twin Caterpillar C32 engines and one Cat C18 driving diesel generator to generate power for the vessel’s electric motors. This technology is much more energy efficient than the traditional diesel setup, and a similar concept is even used on the U.S. Navy’s new Zumwalt class vessels.
The Seattle-based commercial fishing company Blue North Fisheries was established in 1983 and now harvests more than 20,000 metric tons of fish and fish products annually. Blue North currently operates five freezer longliners in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, and one smaller seiner in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon.
We at Northwest Yachting salute the F/V Blue North and wish them successful sea trials in the months to come. Give those boats up north a thought the next time you order fish n’ chips.