The Port of Astoria is likely to see more large vessels in 2003, including an aircraft carrier and 11 cruise ships.

Cruise company Holland America is "98 percent sure" it will bring the ms Prinsendam to Astoria as part of eight 14-day West Coast cruises scheduled to begin next spring, Port Deputy Director Bill Cook told the Port of Astoria Commission at its workshop meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The Port has already scheduled three other cruise calls for 2003.

"This is a real pivotal point in our success in this industry," Cook said. "If we don't fail them, we have no where to go but up."

The Port is also in the running to host the USS Midway for a few months next spring. The 1,001-foot aircraft carrier, now in Bremerton, Wash., is set to become a floating museum in San Diego. First it must undergo substantial repairs and renovations, which could be done in Astoria, Cook said.

The carrier would be docked on the east side of Pier 2. "It's going to pose a little bit of a problem, but we can handle it," Cook said.

Also at Tuesday's meeting:

Portland architectural firm Opsis was selected to design the planned Astoria conference center. It is "very strong in all categories," Cook said.

The firm was selected from 15 others that submitted proposals for the conference center. On Monday, a steering committee selected Opsis from three finalists interviewed last week.

The firm's principal architects all graduated from the University of Oregon School of Architecture in 1981.

"We're really looking forward to engaging them on this project," Cook said.


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