In a conversation with Robert “Bob” Jaynes, his dedication to and love of Prince William Sound is immediately apparent.
Jaynes has been a member of the council’s Port Operations and Vessel Traffic System since 2004, chairing that committee since 2006. He has been operating a boat on the Sound for 22 years, licensed as a captain by the Coast Guard for 18 of those years.
Originally from California, Jaynes’ work first brought him to Alaska in the 1980s while working for the Air Force.
“After working several different jobs, like you do when you’re in your younger years,” Jaynes said, “I finally ended up working civil service at McClellan Air Force Base.”
Jaynes started out working on fighter aircraft, eventually working his way into the engineering department. While at this position, he spent a total of six and a half years traveling back and forth to Vietnam to work on crashed, battle-damaged aircraft in the field.
After the Vietnam war, the Alaska Air Command, interested in his background in aircraft repair, offered him a position at Eielson Air Force Base near North Pole, Alaska. Jaynes was to set up and lead the battle damaged aircraft repair program for the A-10 aircraft. Jaynes wrote lesson plans and designed a trailer that would carry an airplane triage operation. With this trailer, a group of five trained personnel would be able to repair aircraft in the field.
After the creation of the curriculum, Jaynes was asked to help write regulations for battle damage aircraft repair for the entire Air Force. Once the regulations were completed, Jaynes worked for several years as part of a five man crew specializing in hard to repair A-10 aircraft and training military personnel.
“Anytime the military had an aircraft that they were completely stumped on, they called us in.”
Besides Vietnam, Jaynes’ work for the Air Force allowed him to travel to Thailand, China, Guam, Japan, Korea, and Norway.
Jaynes remained at this job until the aircraft repair program in Alaska changed to a different type of aircraft. He returned to McClellan for a year and a half until it closed in 1995, when he opted for early retirement.
“I immediately told them I was going back to Alaska!”
Eighteen years from the first time he set foot in Alaska, Jaynes and his wife, Del, moved back to North Pole.
“I spent the biggest share of a $25,000 bonus so that I could come back.”
Jaynes and his wife opened up Delsbrat Fishing Charters in Valdez. They have been in the charter fishing business since then. Jaynes spends most of his summers on the water, Del joining him when she’s not busy at her bed and breakfast, Del’s Bunk and Chow.
He and Del will be celebrating 25 years of marriage in 2013. Jaynes talks proudly about his and Del’s six children, 13 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. Many live in North Pole and Fairbanks.
Jaynes was elected in 2012 to chair a new council group made up of chairs and co-chairs of the council’s standing committees. This new group works mostly on joint committee projects. Jaynes said that this new group has already helped improve communication among committee members.
“We are still in a planning stage, but eventually I believe it will be very beneficial to the council.”
Jaynes spoke about a recently successful council project, the Marine Fire Symposium. This class teaches land-based firefighters from Alaska’s coastal communities how to respond to a fire on board a vessel.
“I expect that we are probably going to end up having the biggest turnout for the next symposium that we’ve ever had,” Jaynes said about this October’s upcoming symposium.
“It’s an absolute necessity,” Jaynes added, “they have to have that training to move around a ship and know what to do.”
“If you don’t have trained people, you’re in trouble.”
The committee also has several projects dealing with ice calving from Columbia Glacier.
The council owns a radar signal processing system which monitors the tanker lanes for ice. The processor takes data from Coast Guard radar and is housed in an Alyeska-owned building. Jaynes says this has been a successful partnership.
The committee is also working on a project to determine how much longer Columbia Glacier will be calving icebergs into Prince William Sound.
“A lot of our projects have to do with the amount of ice that’s out there,” Jaynes said, “We need to know how many years we are going to be looking at ice [in the tanker lanes], how many years the tugs are going to have to go out on iceberg watch, how long the Coast Guard is going to have to monitor that system.”
Jaynes also believes that more people need to know about the work of the council.
“For some reason, people throughout the U.S., even Alaska, even downtown Valdez, have never heard of us,” Jaynes said.
Jaynes believes that any body of water that has big shipping on it could benefit from a citizens’ council.
“I believe that eventually it’s going to happen,” Jaynes said about the spread of such councils, “I hope that it doesn’t happen due to a catastrophe.”
Jaynes appreciates the turnout that the Port Operations and Vessel Traffic System committee gets from industry and agencies, such as Alyeska’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System, Crowley and the Coast Guard.
“We get tremendous turnout from the ex-officios, every meeting,” Jaynes said, “they have things to say that really need to be listened to.”