Transocean Air Lines        1946 - 1960

     Transocean's Alaskan operations was initiated in 1947 when President Orvis Nelson first
became interested in ferrying contract labor from San Francisco and Seattle to Bristol Bay in the
Bering Sea. Bristol Bay, which lies just, north of the root of the Aleutian peninsula, is a rich
source of the finest salmon. The fishermen move into the area from the West Coast for periods
of six weeks to two months while the salmon are running. Transocean, which instituted the first
mass movement of this contract labor by air, flew the fishermen from our West Coast ports to
Yakutat, a port and airfield north of Juneau and then to Naknek on Bristol Bay. Transocean flew
approximately 2,000 of the migrant fishermen up to the annul runs during 1947 and 1948. The
following year the company dropped the operation because of the unpredictable nature of the
fish. Nelson and his staff learned that the arrival of the salmon in the Bristol Bay area could vary
as much as two or three weeks from their scheduled date of appearance, and this meant that
the company with the contract for hauling the labor had to have its airplanes and crews standing
by for long periods without any revenue coming in.
     The first year Transocean started this movement by air, fishermen went on strike and when
the strike was over all 2,000 of them wanted to get up there right away.  The fisherman were
paid by the pound, so they were anxious to get to work. Transocean was just about swamped
when the strike ended, but by moving in some extra planes were able to transport the whole
crowd up there in three days. The men usually leave the West Coast around the middle of June
and begin to come home around the middle of August. The second year Transocean had to
keep some the planes and crew standing by till the fish arrived and after that decided that the
only time the airline would participate in operation would be when inactive equipment was
     Though the contracts with the salmon fisheries proved to be a disappointment from the point
of view of a permanent operation, the experiments did establish Transocean as a contract
operator in the air transport activity between the West Coast and Alaska.

Naval Air Station, Adak
     In 1948 Nelson and his associates successfully bid in a contract with the Navy Bureau of
Yards and Docks and the Drake-Puget Sound Construction Company which called for the
movement of labor and some equipment from Seattle to Adak, far out on the curving arm of the
Aleutians. The flight plan used for these trips, which continued for three years, called for a
nonstop 1,500-mile hop from Seattle to Anchorage, on Alaska's southern coast, and then
another nonstop flight from Anchorage along the Aleutian chain to Adak.
     The Transocean flights to Adak provided aerial transport service for the construction of the
base the Navy was establishing on the little island. The base consisted of the usual quarters
and a number of large and modern warehouses-with all the warehouses set in a geometrical
pattern in quarter-of-a-mile rows. The Navy apparently was not worried about the possibility of
providing an enemy with a good, easily identified target for bombing or offshore shelling in that
part of the world.
     During his wartime flying for the Air Transport Command, Transocean President Orvis
Nelson made more than 75 trips to Alaska and various air bases along the Aleutian chain, and
while Transocean was carrying the salmon fishermen and the construction workers up to that
part of the world he made a number of additional flights over this wild and rugged terrain.
Around the World With Transocean Air Lines