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Deep-Water Port Proposal Catches Eye of Army Commander

Port of Nome

Fishing vessels at the Nome harbor, the proposed site for a deep-water port near the Bering Strait. Photo: Matthew Smith, KNOM


The port of Nome recently received a visit from a high-ranking official in the Army Corps of Engineers.

On August 13, Lt. General Thomas Bostick–a commanding officer in the Corps–met with Nome mayor Denise Michels to discuss an existing proposal for a deep-water port in Nome.

Since last May, a team from the Army Corps of Engineers has been researching potential sites for a deep-water draft port in Northwestern Alaska. There were originally fourteen sites considered for the port, but focus has since narrowed to Nome and Port Clarence. Bruce Sexuaer, who has been leading the Army Corps research team, says they are still open to proposals from other communities in the region.

Mayor Michels said the Lt. General’s visit, while part of a routine check-in, marked a significant opportunity for Nome to demonstrate its potential as a key port in the arctic.

“We had an opportunity to go over operations, numbers that go over the increase in arctic traffic, what type of vessels are coming through, why this is important for the nation,” she said.  “This was a good meeting for us. It was a good thing for the system. It’s great to see that they’re moving forward.”

Michels says she was pleased to see a diverse group of vessels in the harbor, as they represented the density and diversity of ocean traffic in Nome.

“It was a great day and a great opportunity for him to have boots on the ground to understand when the recommendation goes up to him to move to the next phase,” she said.

Sexauer cautions that a decision about the port has not yet been made, and that research study findings will not even be available until the end of the 2014 calendar year.

Still, Mayor Michels hopes that Lt. General Bostick left with a broader understanding of Nome’s potential role in the arctic. The next step, she says, will be convincing other federal decision-makers of that same potential.

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