Tug Pathfinder Stable - Causal Investigation and Fuel Lightering Plans Underway
(VALDEZ, Alaska; December 25, 2009) The Crowley tugboat Pathfinder, which grounded Wednesday night on Bligh Reef in Alaska, is stable today at anchor near Busby Island surrounded by oil spill containment boom. A salvage team from TITAN Salvage has arrived at the scene and is evaluating the damage to the tug in preparation for lightering the remaining diesel fuel from two ruptured tanks to another vessel.
A light sheen of diesel fuel has been observed outside the boom containment area and is being recovered with skimmers and absorbents. No impacts to wildlife have been observed or reported.
"All of us at Crowley are deeply disappointed and saddened that this grounding occurred," said Rockwell Smith, senior vice president and general manager, Pacific/Alaska. "We regret that we've disrupted service to Alyeska and that fuel has been released into the water. We will get to the bottom of this and take all necessary corrective actions."
A joint investigation is underway by the U.S. Coast Guard and Crowley. The tugboat's master and second mate have been relieved of duty pending further investigation.
Crowley is currently working with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in a Unified Command to develop a plan to remove fuel from the damaged tanks and tow the Pathfinder back to the Port of Valdez for more detailed assessment of damage.
The Pathfinder, a tug used primarily for ship assist at the Port of Valdez, was monitoring ice conditions in Prince William Sound and was en route back to Valdez when the grounding occurred.
"Crowley appreciates the prompt assistance of Aleyska response resources in addition to the Unified Command in coordinating this response" said Walt Tague, Crowley Incident Commander for the response. "Our objective is to mitigate the potential for further release of diesel fuel and relocate the vessel to a more secure moorage through safe and coordinated operations.
In Valdez, Alaska, Crowley personnel and tugs help protect the environment through a contract with Alyeska Pipeline Service Company's Ship Escort/Response Vessel System (SERVS). Through this commercial partnership Crowley provides tug escorts for tankers traveling through Prince William Sound to and from the Valdez Marine Terminal, assuring their safe passage even under winter's most extreme weather conditions. Crowley also provides secure docking and undocking operations at the oil product loading terminals.
Jacksonville-based Crowley Holdings Inc., a holding company of the 117-year-old Crowley Maritime Corporation, is a privately held family and employee-owned company. The company provides diversified transportation and logistics services in domestic and international markets by means of six operating lines of business: Puerto Rico/Caribbean Liner Services, Latin America Liner Services, Logistics Services, Petroleum Services, Marine Services and Technical Services. Offered within these operating lines of business are the following services: liner container shipping, logistics, contract towing and transportation; ship assist and escort; energy support; salvage and emergency response through its TITAN Salvage subsidiary; vessel management; vessel construction and naval architecture through its Jensen Maritime subsidiary; government services, and petroleumand chemical transportation, distribution and sales. Additional information about Crowley, its subsidiaries and business units may be found on the Internet at www.crowley.com.