Helenka B (AKA Surfbird)


This page will attempt to tell the story of the USS Surfbird after it was sold to Brice Industries of Fairbanks, Alaska and renamed Helenka B.


The disposition of the Surfbird remained a mystery to all of her former crewmembers until one of the Surfbird plank owners, Ed Fournier decided it was time to find out.  Click Here to read the story in Ed's own words.



Ed Fournier

Ed was able to contact the current skipper of the Helenka B (Bruce Flanigan), who provided him with several pictures of the ship as she looks today and Ed shared them with us at our first reunion in 2003.  Click here to see the pictures.



Larry McMaster

Bruce sent some more pictures for us to share with the former crew on the web page.  Click here to see the pictures.



Ed Fournier

Ed spoke with Helenka B skipper Bruce Flanigan recently and learned that Bruce and his wife Anna have purchased the Helenka B (former Surfbird) from Wel-Aska and they are in business as a shipper in the Alaska area.  Thanks for the update Ed. I know that I speak for the entire former crew of the Surfbird when I wish Bruce and Anna fair winds and following seas in their new venture.



Ed Fournier

The address for the new owners of the Helenka B aka Surfbird 383 is as follows:

       Capt. Bruce & Anna Flanigan 
       P.O.Box  4083 
       Homer, AK  99603
The ship has been converted to a freight hauler and is shorter than the original with a bow somewhat like an LST, two new engines and the bridge is moved aft. After 60 some years of floating, the hull is in good shape due to the fact that it was galvenized inside and out from the beginning. If anyone wants to write or send cards to Capt Bruce and family I'm sure he would appreciate it.



Don Gillispie

Soon after our reunion in Nashville, the Association Board of Directors voted to present one of the new Surfbird hats to Bruce Flanigan.  After the hats arrived at my home, I placed one in the mail along with a letter thanking Bruce for his help.  Click Here to read the letter.



Don Gillispie

Shortly before Christmas I received a letter and some more pictures from Anna Flanigan.  Click here to read the letter.  Click here to view the pictures.



Don Gillispie

I was poking around in Google Earth and decided to check out Homer, Alaska.  Not only did I find it, but I also found Homer Spit with the Helenka B parked in the same spot shown in the pictures of 12/21/2007.  Click here to see the two pictures I captured.



Don Gillispie

I received the following email from Bill Erickson (USS Surfbird crew 1967-68) on 4/27/2008:

"My Brother is living up in Homer on the end of the Spit about a mile away from where the Surfbird is, so I asked him to take a couple of photo's of her. The photo's were taken a couple of days ago [please find attached]."
Click here to see the pictures that Bill's brother took.



 Don Gillispie

 Article about the Helenka B published in the Homer Alaska newspaper.   

Click here to see a PDF copy of the article..


 Don Gillispie

 Bill Erickson (USS Surfbird crew 1967-68) sent some more pictures of the Helenka B taken in the spring of 2009 while she was beached in Homer Alaska.

 Click here to see the pictures that Bill sent.


 Don Gillispie

 Bill Klemme of Anchorage, Alaska contacted us via our visistors log to let us know that he spotted the Helenka B entering the Anchorage, Alaska harbor.  Here is what he had to say: "Saw the helenka B coming into Anchorage port last week ,and googled it to find more info on this boat, wow what a story".  Bill later sent us a picture and it is shown at the top of this page on the left.


 Don Gillispie

 Anna Flanigan contacted us to let us know that their business now has a web page.  You can view it at http://alaskancoastalfreight.com.  Check it out!


 Don Gillispie

 I received this email with attached picture from Bob Sewell, nephew of the late Bill Emery, former crewmember and plank owner of the Surfbird.

Here are the pictures of the Surf Bird that I took in Homer on July 1, 2010. In the first two pictures you can still see the name on the stern. My uncle who was a Electrician Chief, a plank owner and I think the senior Cheif when it was commissoned would not recognize it today. I feel badly that it was in  Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for many years when I was employed there and I could have taken him aboard but I never knew it was there.....

Bob Sewell, nephew of Bill Emery of the Surf Bird

 Click here to see the pictures that Bob sent.


 Don Gillispie

 Ed Fournier contacted me to ask if I had heard anything from Bruce and Anna Flanigan. I had not so decided to drop them a line.  This is the reply I got from Anna:

Hi Don, thanks for checking on us. Everything is just fine, Bruce has been running every day that the weather allows. He's been working the winters through for Chevron up in Cook inlet waters. The flat bottom allows him to work in the ice where other boats can't deal with it, so they've been keeping him pretty busy. We had to haul her out of the water in Kodiak to do a bottom inspection by the Coast Guard, she was the largest vessel they have had to haul out at their facility and put an article about it in their newspaper.  We have plans to haul her out again this winter and put new steel on the deck, the equipment has worn it pretty thin. Tell Ed hi for us and hope all is well with the Surf Bird crew.
All our best, Bruce and Anna  

Click here to see the picture Anna sent with the email 
                Note: Click on small images to see a larger image.



Last updated: 11/13/2011