Fleet Fisheries’ new scallop boat is turning heads

NEW BEDFORD — When you see the new fishing vessel Viking Power, you’ll know it.

Due to arrive in New Bedford in early November, the unusual-looking scalloper has a hull that slopes outward at the bow. Just below the water line, it comes to a rounded point, like the nose of rocket.

Fleet Fisheries owner Lars Vinjerud II commissioned the boat. He said the aerodynamic shape serves two goals: to make the boat more fuel efficient, and to make it more comfortable and safer for the crew. The boat should do less pitching in rough seas.

“The waves are supposed to roll up and roll off,” he said.

Vinjerud designed the boat in concert with an Alabama shipyard, Williams Fabrication, which built the boat in Bayou La Batre, Alabama — the same harbor where the fictional Forrest Gump landed shrimp.

The Viking Power replaces Fleet Fisheries’ previous vessel of the same name, and it comes equipped with innovations and comforts not common in older commercial fishing boats.

“This boat has a lot of firsts,” Vinjerud said. “This whole boat is outside the box.”

It is one of the first scallopers without gallows or booms, he said. Instead, it uses an A-frame rig that eliminates several of the steps the crew must take to bring the net on board.

The boat has a blast-chilling system that can quickly freeze up to 5,000 pounds of scallops a day.

The bilge pump separates oil from water, so oil won’t get released into the ocean.

Plus, the interior floors are cushioned, to go easy on the crew’s knees and hips. The boat also has built-in recycling stations for bottles and cans.

Innovative gear and amenities don’t come cheap. Vinjerud said he does not have the final price, but it will be in the $5 million range. That’s about 40% more than a typical fishing boat, he said.

Vinjerud lives in Florida and Fairhaven. He said he plans to head to Alabama shortly for the vessel’s sea trials. A crew will take it out to make sure the boat is stable, set up the electronics, and see that the engines are running well.

Come November, he will pilot the Viking Power up to New Bedford.

He’s excited but a little nervous, he said. Any new vessel has bugs to work out, and he anticipates the new Viking Power may have more than most.

He hasn’t gone on a commercial fishing trip in 25 years, but he plans to go on at least one trip on the new boat.

“Because it’s so different, I want to make sure we get off to a good start,” he said.

Vinjerud has gotten some compliments on the boat from people who say it sets the stage for the future of fishing. As he looks toward his own family’s future, that’s all right by him.

“You pass away someday,” he said, “and you want to pass on a legacy.”

Original story here.