Stand in protects the port

Barge Kuskokwim Trader serves as a temporary breakwater at Bremerton until USS Turner Joy returns

BREMERTON — With the USS Turner Joy museum ship having its hull scraped, sounded and painted while it’s in dry dock on Lake Union, the Bremerton Marina needed a stand in.

Enter the Kuskokwim Trader, a 300-foot-long by 90-foot-long barge owned by Alaska Marine Lines of Seattle. The Kuskokwim Trader is a familiar sight to drivers as it normally spends its days anchored in the shallow waters of Sinclair Inlet up by Gorst. That’s where it is when it’s not being towed to and from Alaska in the late spring, summer and early fall months, loaded with goods and cargo.

For now, it has a more important — albeit temporary — role: protecting the Bremerton Marina.

Tidal currents sweeping up and down the channel by the marina can be vicious, especially when coupled with a fierce nor’easter storm, explained John Larson, president of the Bremerton Historic Ships Association, the entity that owns the Turner Joy.

Likewise, without a breakwater, the wakes from Washington State ferries are capable of damaging small craft moored in the marina. Which is why the Turner Joy — and for now its stand in, the Kuskokwim Trader — are needed to protect the northern end of the marina.

At 300 feet long, the barge is considerably shorter than the 418-foot-long destroyer it is substituting for.

“Because it is shorter,” Larson said, “the decision was made to anchor (the barge) further away from the bank as the currents are less strong along the shoreline.”

Alaska Marine Lines donated the use of the barge, which was towed from its location near Gorst to the north end of the marina by Western Towboat.