TOTE Marks 35th Anniversary of First Sailing to Anchorage
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Thirty-five years ago this week, the S.S. Great Land rounded Fire Island and steamed into the Port of Anchorage to begin a new era in ocean transportation for Alaska’s railbelt region. The new ship belonged to Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Inc. (TOTE), a subsidiary of Sun Shipbuilding of Philadelphia, PA, and was built to support the growth and economic activity driven by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System project. The S.S. Great Land brought the idea of Roll-On/Roll-Off (RO-RO) loading and discharging to the Alaska liner market, which served the unique transportation requirements for the massive amounts of construction equipment, consumables and supplies for the tens of thousands of workers involved in the pipeline project. Today, the company focuses on providing the same service it did 35 years ago – reliable, competitive, on-time ocean freight carriage - with the benefit of today's advanced technology, such as internet tracking and email communications, which certainly wasn't available in 1975. To mark this milestone, TOTE's employees threw themselves an impromptu 35th birthday party at their offices in Anchorage, Alaska and Federal Way and Tacoma, Wash. According to George Lowery, TOTE’s Director of Alaska Operations, “When we consider what we hope TOTE represents to the Alaska market and community today, and also consider where and when we started, we’re proud to be able to give our company a little birthday observance.” Over the years, TOTE steadily expanded its single sailing per week, Tacoma to Alaska run, competing with other liner vessel operators and barge carriers. Sister vessel S.S. Westward Venture was introduced in 1977 to supplement the Great Land’s run into a twice-weekly service In 1993, the S.S. Northern Lights was added into the weekly schedule for a seasonal third sailing to support heavy summer volumes into the Alaska railbelt region. Since then, the company has introduced two new diesel-electric, RO-RO vessels into the trade, specifically built for the Alaska trade, under the names M.V. Midnight Sun and M.V. North Star. In 1982, following pipeline project completion, the company was spun off to create Seattle-based Totem Resources, which has since grown into a holding company under the name of Saltchuk Resources. Along with TOTE, their holdings include maritime, aviation and petroleum interests familiar to Alaska such as Foss Maritime, Delta Western, Northern Air Cargo, and Inlet Petroleum, among others. Greg Kessler, TOTE’s Commercial Director for Alaska noted, “TOTE serves a very supportive customer community that has permitted us to serve them for 35 years in the Alaska trade. We were truly built for Alaska, and today, we celebrate having focused on serving Alaska well, above anything else.“ For more information about TOTE, please visit www.totemocean.com.