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Samson to begin Juneau service next month

Barge company will provide competition for Lynden Transport

Posted: October 24, 2013 - 12:11am
Northland Services Inc., one of two tug and barge companies operating in Juneau, is located on Channel Drive near the mouth of Salmon Creek. Lynden, owner of Alaska Marine Lines, has signed a purchase agreement to buy Northland.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Northland Services Inc., one of two tug and barge companies operating in Juneau, is located on Channel Drive near the mouth of Salmon Creek. Lynden, owner of Alaska Marine Lines, has signed a purchase agreement to buy Northland.

Sitka-based Samson Tug and Barge will begin service in Juneau and other Southeast Alaska ports on Nov. 8, fulfilling a condition of Lynden Transport’s buyout of competitor Northland Marine Services earlier this year. Samson will make weekly runs to Juneau, port operations manager Jim Scholz said.

Samson will also expand to serve Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangell, Thorn Bay, Craig and Metlakatla, he said. The expansion will nearly double the company’s size, according to a previous Empire report.

The company will lease former Northland space from Lynden, which operates Alaska Marine Lines, according to a report. Scholz said the company also plans to take on 40 to 70 employees in the expansion, some of which are former Northland employees.

“Those are the people who make it happen now, and we want to have them on our team,” he said. “If we have the customer support, we’ll be able to employ lots of folks.”

Samson currently employs about 40 to 70 people, he said.

The company is expanding in the wake of Sept. 29 Alaska Superior Court approval of the Lynden-Northland buyout, which was investigated by the Attorney General’s office because of concerns the merger would violate Alaska’s anti-trust laws and create a monopoly, Assistant Attorney General Ed Sniffen said in a previous report.

The buyout was approved with a condition — Samson needed to have more of a presence in Southeast to provide competition for Lynden.

Although there was a 60-day window of public comment after the initial conditional approval of the buyout on July 31, not a single complaint was filed, Sniffen said. So, the court saw no reason not to approve the transaction.

“There were no public comments filed, there were no complaints filed, no one expressed any interest in commenting,” he said.

The Attorney General’s office will monitor shipping in Southeast to make sure family-owned Samson remains competitive, Sniffen said in the report. Scholz said Samson intends to increase frequency of service to Juneau to more than once a week as time goes on.

• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.

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