Salvor Resolve Alaska Expands to Meet Clients' Needs "Upstream"

Resolve Alaska drydock
Resolve Alaska handled 20 drydockings in Dutch Harbor in 2023 (Resolve Marine)

Published Feb 6, 2024 9:11 PM by The Maritime Executive


Resolve Marine is known for its prowess in solving complex salvage jobs, like the raising of the Costa Concordia or the response to the Deepwater Horizon spill. But in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, it's known for a lot more. To learn about how Resolve's business has evolved to meet the needs of customers in this region, TME spoke with A.W. McAfee, Resolve's West Coast Regional Manager.

When people think about Resolve, they probably think "salvage," but the business in Alaska is a lot more diversified. Can you tell us about your operations?

Resolve Alaska performs repairs and drydocking at our facility in Dutch Harbor, and we have a qualified crew of welders, divers and other technical staff on location. When we need them for a salvage project, they're ready to go.

In between projects, we work on solving our clients' shipboard maintenance and repair problems alongside the pier or in the drydock, before they become emergencies. Our ultimate goal is to try to keep folks out of trouble and hit problems as far upstream as we can. It also means we're interfacing more with our clients, so we have a better understanding of their needs.

Up in Alaska, about 60 percent of our business is now booked work, from welding to mechanical to drydocking to dive work. The remaining 40 percent is salvage and emergency response. 

Ultimately it's about meeting the market's needs, and we want to help our clients hit the Easy button for things that they're not used to doing. We deal with one-off problems all the time, so we can tap a pool of experts who can resolve unusual challenges.

Can you tell us about Resolve Marine's decision to jump into aviation in Alaska?

The aviation unit really shows how we're not afraid to get out of the box, understand the available resources, and then make them a part of the business.

Our founder came up to Alaska to get to our new facility and couldn't get an airplane flight to Dutch Harbor. He has an aviation background, so he decided to get a plane and control the problem, instead of letting it control what we do.

It's really a differentiator, because we can get places on our own schedule as the weather allows. Our Pilatus PC-12 can operate on gravel airstrips and carry a lot of cargo, but it can also fly fast and high, so it gives us a lot of flexibility.

We also do charter flights for our clients. In Dutch Harbor, we have fishermen who need to get to and from their vessels. When the local commercial flights are less reliable, we're able to get in there and help them get their crews to their boats.

What prompted the decision to open a new Tacoma facility?

The notion to open a Pacific Northwest office really spawned from our client base in Alaska. A lot of the Alaska fishing fleet and the commercial fleet is based in the Pacific Northwest, so we opened a warehouse in Tacoma where we house emergency response equipment. We also have an operational facility where we service clients.

The facility had just opened its doors when the fire on the Kodiak Enterprise occurred. It was interesting to watch how our brand new facility would be able to support that local project. It put us first on scene. We had a small team available and a facility to work from as a home base next to that project, right from the start.

Does the location also open up access to a new workforce?

Yes, this was part of the reason for opening the Tacoma facility. Our clients in Alaska bring a lot of their resources and their employees up from Washington, Oregon, even Idaho and Montana. In the same way, our new Tacoma staff will be available to deploy to Alaska to work for us.

You know, I go to a lot of conferences, and the recurring theme that we've heard over the last four or five years has been about the depletion of the workforce and the difficulty of finding new people. And honestly, we're building the people. We're finding the men and women who want to do the work, we're giving them the knowledge and we're teaching them.

For me, training the local people who have come into Resolve Marine and mentoring them was one of the most interesting projects of 2023. It's rewarding to watch these young people grow into what will someday be the old guard.  -TME