Queen of the Fleet
By Captain William M. Hopkins
June 06, 2006
I read Dave Kiffer's comments about the M/V Kennicott on Sitnews.
Needless to say, I was disappointed by Kiffer's lack of knowledge
about ships, and the Kennicott in particular.
At least he is consistent with Southeast Alaska's negativity
concerning this vessel. We never hear anything approaching this
when sailing in Southwest Alaska.
On the Inside Passage, where the sea is mostly flat calm, it
is easy to be critical. On the Gulf of Alaska and the Kodiak
Island waters, one comes away with some appreciation and a true
Having served on the Kennicott now for the past eight years as
her master, I feel qualified to say that she is the best riding
vessel I have ever ridden, and when we deal with the powerful
storms and seas in the Gulf of Alaska and Kodiak Island area
I would not want to be any place else.
The Kennicott hull design went through extensive wave testing
in Norway to find the best hull form for the waters she was expected
to encounter in her 62 year life span. They did admirably well.
You will never see the Matanuska, Malaspina, Taku, or Columbia
cross the Gulf of Alaska on a regular basis. The Kennicott has
been on the cross Gulf run all year long and has not missed her
schedule due to weather. And the times we have been on the Bellingham
run, the Kennicott has never had to tack for the seas in Milbank
Sound, Dixon Entrance or Queen Charlotte Sound.
The ship has a smooth bow and flare for wave entry, a double
hull for strength, and stabilizer fins 18 feet long, 7 feet broad
and with aileron flaps to greatly resist rolling. In additon
to all of this, she comes with Becker rudders - an additional
flap on the after edge of the rudders, much like a trim tab,
to give her tremendous maneuvering capability. If you have ever
taken a large ship through Wrangell Narrows you would understand
Granted she is square and boxy, without any camber to her decks,
but this does not seem to matter to folks in Southwest Alaska
were a rough sea and good ride mean something.
I have heard everything from Lemmon-cott, to Appricott, and now
Tincan-icott. Having heard these terms from prominent citizens
of Ketchikan, I have never been bashful about inviting them down
to the ship for a first class tour, or even asking if they have
ever ridden the ship. Nobody has yet come down for a tour, and
as far as I know ever ridden the ship. Instead they elect to
stay ashore and make their armchair expert analysis from the
comfort of their living rooms.
In the meantime, the Kennicott continues making her rounds on
schedule, unappreciated in Southeast Alaska, and greatly appreciated
in Southwest Alaska, staffed by very good crews, many of whom
are Ketchikan residents.
It is no secret that the Kennicott is considered to be the Queen
of the Fleet by those of us who understand the sea and what it
takes to travel upon it safely and regularly.
Captain William M. Hopkins
About: Captain William M. Hopkins
writes, "I have sailed as a licensed deck officer for the
Alaska Marine Highway System for the past 28.5 years, and as
an unlimited master since 1988. I hold an unlimited master ocean
license for steam and motor vessels of any gross tons upon any
ocean, with First Class Pilotage for the waters of Puget Sound
main ship channels from the Canadian border to Seattle, Southeastern
Alaska including Yakutat, Prince William Sound, Resurrection
Bay, lower Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay, Kodiak Island Group,
the Alaska Peninsula, and Aleutian Islands port of Dutch Harbor/Iliuliuk
Bay. I was appointed as a master on the Kennicott in January
Modest Proposal" By Dave Kiffer
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on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
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