Amid coronavirus fears, ship from China docks in Kodiak

The Maersk Jabal docks at the Matson Pier in March.

Non-perishable food items that were expected to arrive in Kodiak on last Wednesday’s Matson vessel will be delayed until Monday due to maintenance on a crane used for unloading cargo, according to Matson. 

During a routine maintenance check conducted on Tuesday, inspectors found that the hoist cable on a crane at Matson’s unloading dock had started fraying, said Matson spokesman Dylan Faber. 

Maintenance crews  “started working immediately to get it fixed,” Faber said, adding that the process to switch out the cable takes a couple days, and it should be operational by the weekend. 

The affected vessel was scheduled to leave Anchorage on Tuesday and arrive at Kodiak Wednesday. Instead, Matson chartered three cargo flights to deliver some of the goods, which arrived on the island on Thursday. 

“We understand our critical role as lifeline of the community of Kodiak and are committed to maintaining that service,” Faber said. 

Goods transported on the three cargo flights included Safeway’s perishable items such as meat, eggs, produce and milk, said Safeway manager Mike Murray.

The store’s non-perishable items, which include frozen foods and dry goods, will be “thin” until the Monday vessel arrives, Murray said.  

Unrelated to the vessel delay, Safeway also faces shortages of meat products following coronavirus-related closures of some meat-processing plants in the Lower 48. 

Murray said that Safeway’s meat deliveries are down by 60%, requiring the store to implement limits on how many items of meat can be purchased. Customers are limited to two items each of poultry, beef and pork. 

The shortage comes less than a month before the salmon season opener, which is typically one of the busiest times for Safeway. 

After the opener is announced, “the entire fishing fleet” goes to the store to buy large quantities of items for the season, “not just grabbing one or two” of each product, Murray said. 

The store’s staff works hard to prepare for the salmon opener and stock up the store, “but this year that can all be in vain, depending on the availability of products,” he said. 

Murray said he doesn't know if there will be limits on how many packages of meat people will be allowed to buy when fishing starts. 

With the lack of meat, Murray noted that there have been increased sales of seafood, especially frozen shrimp. 

Frozen seafood sales “are positive over last year compared to the meat department, which is negative over last year because we don't have the product to sell,” he said.

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