Our company was founded by Peter and Leslie Strong, who began tendering salmon in Alaska in the early 1970s.
In 1983, the Strongs purchased the 180-foot freighter “Theresa Lee” from a bankrupt New England fish company. Coastal Transportation was incorporated early the following year, and the Strongs changed the name of the freighter to “Coastal Trader.”
Over the next several months, the Strongs hired a captain and crew, advertised their service, and found a load of cargo. On June 3, 1984, Coastal Trader departed on the company’s first voyage from rented dock space on the Lake Washington Ship Canal—and returned a month later with her holds full of frozen crab!
It was crab that largely provided the foothold that allowed Coastal Transportation to establish itself in the business. The Bering Sea season in those years was nearly year-round, and production was high. There was considerable demand for cargo space, but with only one vessel, the company could only manage one sail per month.
In 1985, Coastal Transportation added a second ship, the 240-foot “Biscayne Freeze,” which formerly transported frozen fish on Canada’s East Coast. The boat had been seized by federal agents for transporting drugs, which gave Coastal Transportation the opportunity to purchase it at a Marshal’s sale. Renamed the “Coastal Nomad,” this second vessel now enabled the company to do two sailings a month.
The demand for cargo capacity increased with the development of the U.S. bottom-fish industry in the Bering Sea, and by 1987, Coastal Transportation was operating four vessels and providing weekly scheduled departures to Western Alaska. In 1989, the company established its own cargo terminal on a 14-acre in Seattle, Washington.
The original fish-tender vessels were gradually replaced with the more efficient and more capable second-generation Aleutian trade vessels that currently make up the fleet. A fifth vessel was added in 1990.
In 1999, Coastal Transportation established a permanent presence in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, when it purchased a dock that could accommodate vessels up to 400 feet in length.
Over the past 40 years, our ships have made more than 1,200 roundtrip voyages between Seattle and Western Alaska—and we look forward to making many more.