Ketchikan Port Revitalization, Top Sullivan Priority, Funded at $18.7 Million

Project will enable NOAA Fairweather to finally return to Ketchikan homeport

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, welcomed an announcement today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that the agency is awarding an $18,771,041 contract to rebuild the NOAA port facility in Ketchikan, Alaska, with completion expected by December 2022. The contract is a result of several years of work by Sen. Sullivan, including bipartisan work he and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) did to secure language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which resulted in $13 million in federal funding this year for the project. The poor condition of the existing NOAA pier facility in Ketchikan has prevented the NOAA research vessel Fairweather from homeporting there since 2008.

According to NOAA, the Ketchikan project will include the construction of a new office building, large floating pier, steel access trestle, and updated power and water utility systems for servicing the Fairweather and other visiting ships. The project will begin with the removal of the existing pier and related structures.

“Federal vessels and crew that monitor, patrol, and conduct research in Alaska’s vast waters need to reside in Alaska, period,” said Sen. Sullivan. “For thirteen years, the Fairweather has been one frustrating exception to that commonsense expectation due to the frail condition of the existing NOAA pier facility in Ketchikan. After years of work, pressure, and close coordination with our partners in Southeast, particularly Senator Bert Stedman and Borough Mayor Rodney Dial, we have finally secured the federal funding required to revamp these dock facilities so that the community can welcome back the Fairweather—and serve as a critical base for future vessel and infrastructure investment. This contract announced today is exciting news for Ketchikan and Southeast, but it is just one critical piece of a larger, historic build-up of our Coast Guard and NOAA vessels and assets in Alaska, a build-up that I fully intend to continue in order to secure America’s economic and national security interests in the Arctic.”

Since coming to Congress, Sen. Sullivan has made it a top priority to overhaul the condemned Ketchikan facility, including raising the issue with senior White House, Department of Commerce, and NOAA officials repeatedly in meetings, letters, and at Commerce Committee hearings, and strategically leveraging the confirmation of key officials in exchange for commitments to address the challenge. 


  • Through the work of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and the Alaska congressional delegation, the Department of Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2002 directed NOAA to homeport the R/V Fairweather in Ketchikan.  
  • In 2008, the dock facility in Ketchikan was condemned, and NOAA physically relocated the Fairweather to Newport, Oregon. For thirteen years, the community has been working to return the vessel to its rightful homeport.
  • On January 4, 2018, Sen. Sullivan sent a letter to then-Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross requesting a detailed plan and timeline for returning the Fairweather back to its permanent homeport of Ketchikan.
  • On July 26, 2018, Secretary Ross sent a letter committing to working with Sen. Sullivan to return the Fairweather to a port in Alaska. 
  • On December 4, 2018 the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 was signed into law, including language authored by Sen. Sullivan allowing NOAA to accept non-federal funds for the construction of a viable homeport for the Fairweather in Ketchikan.
  • On July 10, 2019, Sen. Sullivan sent a letter to Secretary Ross to again express support for docking infrastructure in Ketchikan for the NOAAFairweather, including potential grant funding from the Economic Development Administration.
  • On August 1, 2019, Secretary Ross sent a letter to Sen. Sullivan committing to returning the Fairweather to Ketchikan once the pier is repaired and the funding necessary for shoreside facilities is secured.
  • In April 2020, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough transferred $6,493,020 in state grant funding, secured by Alaska Sen. Bert Stedman, to NOAA in support of overhauling the Fairweather facility.
  • On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which included language supported by Sens. Sullivan and Reed directing NOAA to prioritize funding for infrastructure projects related to marine operations, including facilities to accommodate NOAA research vessels. 

Sen. Sullivan currently serves as the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, Climate Change and Manufacturing, which oversees NOAA, and served as the Senate Commerce Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard Subcommittee chairman from 2017 until 2019.

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