Fishing industry leader honored

Doug Dixon of Pacific Fishermen honored for lifetime achievement

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Commercial Club
John Douglas Dixon (left) admires his King Neptune Award with Capt. Sig Hansen (right).

The Norwegian American

To recognize his lifelong contribution to the North Pacific fishing industry and his countless hours of community service, the Norwegian Commercial Club (NCC) of Seattle presented John Douglas Dixon of Pacific Fishermen Shipyard with its highest honor, the King Neptune Award, during the 70th Annual Fishermen’s Night in December 2022.

Dixon joins the ranks of industry leaders Trident Seafoods Chuck Bundrant, Kaare Ness, Bart Eaton, MARCO’s Peter Schmidt, Sam LeClercq, Dr. Wally Pereyra, and U.S. Sens. Ted Stevens, Patty Murray, and Maria Cantwell for this prestigious award.

The NCC King Neptune Award was initiated to honor individuals or organizations whose contributions have furthered the economic growth, well-being, and recognition of the North Pacific fishing industry. The award is intended to honor long-term commitments and contributions to the industry, as well as breakthrough contributions. The award has been presented annually since 1977. Dixon has been actively involved in the maritime industry for nearly 50 years.

Following graduation from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., with a Bachelor of Science in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, he started his career in 1974 in California at Global Marine, with design work on drill ships, a Norwegian Aker H-3 oil drilling platform and supporting the work of the CIA with the USNS Hughes Glomar Explorer, recovering a sunken Russian nuclear submarine off the coast of Hawaii.

In 1977, when the king crab biomass and value rose dramatically, Dixon headed north to MARCO Shipbuilding in Seattle to design and build crab boats. He was able to guide fishermen on what they wanted in their new boats. Dixon worked with Norwegian-American fishing pioneers of the day, including highliners and their vessels like the F/V Northwestern of The Deadliest Catch fame, with sales of the multitude of different types of hydraulic machinery invented by MARCO. After his departure from MARCO in 1991, Dixon worked for Det Norske Veritas (DNV) certifying all types of vessels, then subsequently Lunde Marine Electronics and Guido Perla Naval Architects.

Since 2001, Dixon has served as general manager of Pacific Fishermen Shipyard and Electric, concurrently with independent consulting through Dixon Marine Surveys to the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice, and vessel owners on shipboard design, operational, and tort matters.

Dixon assisted in the passage of the 1987 Commercial Fishing Industry U.S. Vessel Anti-Reflagging and Foreign Reconstruction Act and the U.S. Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act of 1988. His training in Norway as a ship surveyor by the classification society DNV included conducting compliance surveys for U.S. Fishing Vessel Safety Act, International Loadline, SOLAS Safety of Life at Seas, United Nation’s MARPOL Marine Pollution Convention for international commercial vessels, and OSHA for the U.S. fishing fleet.

Dixon has spent countless hours providing smoked fish to different events around the Nordic community, including 2,000 pounds a year at Ballard Seafood Fest and the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Annual barbecue, where he was named 34th Person of the Year in 2014,  despite of his Scots-Irish heritage!

Dixon has been actively involved in the Ballard High School Maritime Program, helping to keep the Norwegian maritime tradition continuing in Seattle. He has also served as president of the Norwegian Commercial Club and is a member of its fisheries committee, in addition to driving the shipyard’s “Deadliest Sweeper” in the Norwegian 17th of May parade. Dixon’s connection to the Norwegian community is not only that he works with many Norwegian fishermen and companies. His wife, Maryanne, is of Norwegian descent, and his son Jacob Steffen owns Work Wear Inc., a company that supplies the North Pacific fishing fleet with Norwegian and Swedish work clothes.

In 2020, Dixon was awarded the Propeller Club Maritime Achievement Award, joining the ranks with Washington’s Sen. Warren G. Magnuson and Gov. Dixy Lee Ray for significant contributions to the maritime community.

Dixon and Maryanne raised their three children, Jake, Rosie, and Chloe, in Seattle’s Ballard community. They recently retired to Enetai Beach on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula, where they enjoy watching the fast ferries, tugs, and fishing boats go by that he has worked on throughout his career, along with beachcombing, kite-flying, crabbing, and fishing with their three grandchildren, Julia, Jonah, and Claire.

This article originally appeared in the February 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

Norwegian American Logo

The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.