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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Ketchikan Ports & Harbors

By Steve Corporon


February 25, 2016
Thursday PM

The following information is provided in response to the letter Mr. Douglas Thompson sent to the Editor of Sitnews which was published on February 25, 2016.

According to the City of Ketchikan Municipal Code vessels need to be seaworthy in order to stay in the City’s harbors. This includes being able to get underway and maneuver under their own power. When Harbor staff observes that a vessel has not moved for a substantial amount of time, usually over a year, the owner is sent a letter requesting they demonstrate within 30 days that the vessel is seaworthy and able to get underway and maneuver under its own power. If an owner states that they are working on the vessel then a reasonable length of time is agreed upon for completing the repairs.

In Mr. Thompson’s case his boat has not been in an operational condition for at least 8 years, possibly longer. One difference between his case and most of our other cases dealing with vessels that are not seaworthy is that his boat looks fairly nice and he keeps the finger it is moored to clean. Nevertheless; Harbor staff has been urging him to bring his boat into compliance although admittedly not as aggressively as we have been with vessels that are visibly in disrepair. In 2012 he was sent a standard letter requesting he demonstrate that his boat was able to maneuver under its own power. He responded that he was installing a new transmission but when Harbor staff tried to establish a reasonable timeframe to complete the project they were told we had no right to dictate when he chose to work on the vessel. Because he did appear to be working on the boat, staff decided to leave him alone for a while. In September of 2015 he was sent another standard letter requesting he demonstrate that it was able to maneuver under its own power. He responded that he had no timetable for completing additional work, that he was now thinking about replacing the fuel tanks and that it was none of our business when he ever got around to doing the work. He did get the boat underway by standing on the swim step and using a small kicker but was told that did not fulfill the seaworthy requirement of the code. This is consistent with the policies of many other harbors in Alaska.

He was subsequently sent a letter in October 2015 stating he did not adequately demonstrate that the vessel was seaworthy and that we would begin impound proceedings. He responded by asking Council Member Sivertsen to speak to the Harbormaster about his case. Harbormaster staff met with Council Member Sivertsen and reviewed Mr. Thompson’s case, explained the code and the dealings we have had with him over the years, the reasoning behind the requirements of the code and what other communities are doing in regards to similar issues. Council Member Sivertson also confirmed to me this morning that at no time was he told to “mind his own business” as Mr. Thompson claims. Mr. Thompson subsequently cancelled his moorage on November 2, 2015, and moved the vessel to Air Marine where it is currently being stored out of the water.

Steve Corporon
City of Ketchikan
Port & Harbors Director
Ketchikan, Alaska


Received February 25, 2016 - Published February 25, 2016

Related Viewpoint:

letter City of Ketchikan Mismanagement By Douglas Thompson



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