Allen Marine Inc.
Custom Built Boats | Bridging | Ramps | Walkways
Products & designs that withstand Alaska's most extreme weather conditions
Allen Marine is recognized as the largest and most successful marine tour operator in Southeast Alaska. We have a fleet of over 40 vessels, with the capacity to carry over 3,750 passengers at any one time. Less well known about us is that we've built almost every boat in our fleet at our boatyard in Sitka, Alaska.
Our manufacturing capabilities have been engaged by a variety of clients for whom we have designed and produced all manner of aluminum work boats, including freight, crew and research vessels.
We also design and manufacture a variety of aluminum structural products such as ramps, walkways and bridging.
Building for ourselves...
We design and build boats for our own use, and this sets us apart from the other boat builders. We incorporate the experience of operating and maintaining our own fleet into the design and details, producing tough, efficient, and easily maintained boats.
Custom build completed fall 2018
Miracle on the Hudson
The unique capabilities of Allen Marine's shallow-draft, water-jet-powered aluminum passenger boats were on display for the world to see on January 15, 2009 after a jetliner with 155 people on board made an emergency landing on the Hudson River.
The first boats on the scene included several of the Sitka-built vessels built by Allen Marine for NY Waterways. In the photo above, five of the nine rescue boast crowding the sinking jet were built by Allen Marine. Several people were pulled from the icy waters by NY Waterways personnel with the use of a unique "Jason's cradle" marine rescue device, one modified and tested by Allen Marine at its facilities in Sitka.
Family & Company History
In 1970, soon after they moved to Sitka, Bob and Betty Allen founded Allen Marine, currently one of the largest private employers in Southeast Alaska. It remains a family business, now run by their son Dave Allen, and employing many other members of the extended Allen family.
Betty Martin Allen is a descendent of the Tlingit people who originally inhabited Southeast Alaska. She is also directly related to one of the original Russian colonizers sent by Alexander Baranov over 200 years ago to establish a fort on the shore of Sitka Sound. The maternal side of her family came from Sitka, while her father Herb was born in a fish camp near Hoonah.
Bob Allen was born in northern California. In 1950, shortly after Bob graduated from grade school, the Allen family moved to Nenana, Alaska, where Bob and his brothers helped their father in the Nenana shipyard. The Allen brothers matured into young men working for famous riverboat operators and bush pilots, adventuring out into the vast wilderness that surrounded them. After graduating from high school, they learned the construction trade at far-flung sites throughout Alaska.
Betty grew up in Juneau, the capital of the Territory of Alaska. During the first summers of her life, Betty’s father, Herb, would take the family aboard his small commercial fishing boat while he trolled for salmon along the shores of the richly forested islands of Southeast Alaska.
As teenagers, Betty and her sisters joined their mother, a union steward, at the Hawk Inlet Cannery near Juneau, where for a few months each summer, the family worked long, hard hours in the great communal effort to “put up the pack” — the cases of canned salmon by which each cannery measured production.
When Bob met Betty in Juneau he was a commercial Dungeness crab fishermen. They married in 1961, and moved to Kodiak where Bob began fishing for king crab. His fishing career came to an abrupt end when Kodiak’s seafood processing facilities were destroyed in the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964. Bob went back to construction work.
In 1965 the Allens bid on a military surplus contract for submerged and buried communications cable near Kodiak. After Bob figured out how to efficiently retrieve over 20 miles of the cable, he smelted tons of lead and copper from it. With income from selling the metals, the Allens bought a shipyard in Sitka. By the time the Allens left Kodiak, they had five children: Valerie, Natalie, Rob, Jennifer and David.
After several hard year fo hauling boats, scrapping and cleaning hulls at Allen Marine Ways of Sitka, Bob purchased a once beautiful 62-foot yacht that had spent some time underwater.
The entire Allen family went to work cleaning and restoring the boat, which they renamed the St. Michael, licensed to carry 49 passengers. It was the first of many Allen Marine boats to be named to honor saints of the Russian Orthodox Church that the Allens attend.
In 1970, the Allens inaugurated their tourism business with the St. Michael. They were well positioned to take advantage of the phenomenal growth of Alaska cruise ship industry.
Through the 1970s, the Allens bought and remodeled several more vessels to serve the growing cruise ship trade. In 1984 they decided to build their own boat, a steel, customized vessel, the M/V St. Maria, designed to serve the particular needs of their growing tour business.
In 1988, Allen Marine won a transportation contract for a mine near Juneau. The Allens built two aluminum fabricated crew boats designed to meet the specific and rigorous contract requirements. In the process, they created a unique in-line water-jet propulsion system, now a standard design used throughout the world. The Allen Marine crew boats operated 365 days a year throughout the ten-year contract without missing a single voyage due to mechanical problems (there was one aborted tie-up due to 80-knot winds, a decision that won the skipper a standing ovation from the miners, but that is another story).
Over the last two decades, Allen Marine’s summer whale watching and marine nature tours expanded from Sitka to include Juneau and Ketchikan. The company continues to build aluminum vessels and structural products year-round at its fabrication facilities in Sitka.