The following is a brief history and description of Icicle Seafoods' Western Alaska operations. You may request a particular worksite and we will do our best to
accommodate but we cannot guarantee your placement. In fact, an employee may be
required to transfer to a different location depending on the staffing needs
within the company.
The Gordon Jensen is the second largest of Icicle's processing vessels at 327 feet
long and 4807 gross tons. She was originally built in 1943 as the U.S.S. Zeus, and
served as a battle damage repair ship in World War II. Dispatched to the intermediate
islands for repair of war-damaged vessels, she continued her service until 1946 when
she returned to San Diego, was decommissioned, and remained part of the Pacific
Reserve Fleet until 1977. After being sold in 1977, she was renamed the Cape St.
Elias and went on to be a salmon processor and freight ship for Snopac Enterprises.
Purchased by Icicle in 1988, the Cape St. Elias went through a major conversion in
Tacoma shipyards to be converted to her present configuration and renamed the Coastal
Star. She was sold back to Snopac in November of 2004, and renamed the Innovator. In 2012, Icicle
Seafoods, Inc. purchased the Innovator and the name was changed to Gordon Jensen,
in honor of one of Icicle’s founders.
The Gordon Jensen's general schedule is to depart Seattle, WA with a processing
crew onboard in mid-December, travel up through the Inside Passage to Dutch Harbor
and process Cod. It will also process Herring and Salmon in Bristol Bay during the spring and summer months.
The Gordon Jensen will house as many as 190 people during the height of its season.
The Northern Victor is the largest of Icicle's processing vessels at 8902 gross
tons. She was built in 1945 as the cargo vessel "Marengo" in Wisconsin for the
U.S. war effort. Released from the U.S. Reserve Fleet, she was converted in
1972 to the oil well drilling ship "Ocean Cyclone" in Beaumont, Texas, adding a
drilling tower and other drilling related equipment, a new engine room, 40 feet
in length and 20 feet in beam to bring her to present dimensions of 380 feet
long and 70 feet wide. After a successful career drilling for oil in the Middle
East and South America, the vessel was retired in Brazil in 1986. Previous
owners took the vessel to South Africa for removal of drilling related
equipment in 1988. The Northern Victor was returned to the United States and
converted to a fish processing vessel in Panama City, Florida, in 1989 and
1990. Since July 1990 the Northern Victor has operated in Alaska and produced
various seafood products as the second largest processing vessel in the United
States fishing industry. Icicle acquired the Northern Victor in late 1999 and
subsequently completed major processing equipment additions and improvements
that have made her the most versatile processing vessel in the U.S. industry.
With quarters for 222 crewmembers she processes Alaskan Pollock at her primary
operating base in the Aleutians Islands near Dutch Harbor. An onboard rendering
plant produces a high quality fish meal and fish oil from the normal processing
waste by-products and insures a maximum recovery from the purchased fish.
Egegik is a small village located in the north-east portion of Bristol Bay. This canning and freezing
facility was purchased in the spring of 2005. Located on the south bank of the
Egegik River, it is ideally situated for prompt processing of the abundance of
Sockeye Salmon traveling up river to the spawning beds in Lake Becharof. The
cannery itself is quite old having been established in the 1890’s and several
buildings dating back to the 1920’s and 1930’s are still in use, each of them
having the massive wooden beam construction common to that period. Although the
official 2000 census estimated the Egegik village population at 116, this
number can increase by as much as 15 times during the salmon season. Along with
the multitudes of fisher folk intent on turning fish into dollars, Icicle
brings in a crew of about 200 people for processing salmon from mid-June
through the first week of August. As the Bristol Bay season begins to wind down
that crew size will fall as we shift seasoned employees to our other processing
facilities throughout the state. Once the crew is gone, our interest quickly
turns to cleaning, lubricating, and winterizing the plant and living
accommodation so we'll have a smooth start-up the following Spring.
facility is located in Larsen Bay. Larsen Bay is a small
glacial fjord off of the large Uyak Bay that bisects Kodiak Island. Salmon has
been processed in this area for over 120 years. The climate in Larsen Bay
is quite temperate. The summers can be warm, if not hot, with a heavy dose of
rainfall and fog. The temperature usually hovers in the 50 degree area, but we
have seen temps in the upper 70’s as well. Early spring and late summer brings
shorter days and colder nights. It is not uncommon at all to see frost, snow,
or even a bear on the dock in May and September.
Alaska Packers Association constructed the present cannery in Larsen Bay in 1911. The site is located on a
beautiful sheltered bay in close proximity to the rich fishing grounds of
Shelikof Strait, Uyak Bay, and the famous Karluk River. Early cannery work was
very labor intensive and crews of about 300 people were brought up each spring
on sailing ships from San Francisco. Although the cannery is among the oldest
currently in operation in Alaska, many improvements have been made over the
years to streamline and improve the operations. Now a crew of over 200 can
pack a truly remarkable number of canned cases and frozen container vans.
In part because of the distance from Kodiak, workers and fishermen
alike have developed a close family-like relationship over the years. For a
five-year period in fact, fishermen were major owners of the cannery. In early
2006, the Larsen Bay plant was purchased by Icicle Seafoods, Inc. from Kodiak Salmon Packers. The 2014
season marks the 29th season for essentially the same
fishermen/tenders and large numbers of employees who have returned year after
The RM Thorstenson is the newest processing ship in Icicle’s fleet. Its overall length is 315 feet long and 45 feet wide at 4,428 gross tons, with a crew capacity of 150 crew members. The RM Thorstenson (otherwise known as the “RMT”) was originally built in 1980 at Equitable Shipyard, Inc., in Madisonville, Louisiana and named the Antilia which was a conventional three hatch freighter.
Shortly after entering service, the vessel’s ownership was transferred and she became the Island Mariana. In March of 1986, the vessel was converted into a container ship and two years later; March of 1988, her name was changed again, to Liberty. She was involved in coast wide trade between Caribbean ports and Newport News, Virginia. The vessel was laid up for sail again in January of 1989. In August of 1991, Seven Seas Fishing Company purchased the vessel and started her conversion into a processing ship at Ak-WA Shipyard, Tacoma, WA.
The Ship was stripped of all equipment except propulsion and steering and all accommodations gutted to exterior bulkheads. The stern was sponsonsed on each quarter, freeboard increased by a shelter deck on the 02 level, the Focsle deck raised one level, and all original main hatches were decked over to make way for processing equipment. 680 tons of steel was added to the vessel during its conversion.
The vessel was then named the Stellar Sea and completed its conversion while underway on her maiden voyage in early November 1992. In October of 2008 Icicle Seafoods purchased the Stellar Sea and in December 2009 she was named the RM Thorstenson in honor of Icicle’s founder, Robert M. Thorstenson.
The RM Thorstenson processes Opilio crab, Roe Herring, Salmon and has also processed Pacific Cod and King Crab in the past. Generally the RM Thorstenson will start its processing year mid January at St.Paul Island with Opilio crab through to the end of March, Roe Herring in Togiak for the month of May and part of June, and Salmon in Bristol Bay during the months of June and July. The RM Thorstenson has also participated in processing Roe Herring in both Kodiak and Norton Sound as well as Pink Salmon in Prince William Sound.