Investigation Underway into Lost Anchors on Two Crude Carriers Engaged in the Coastwise Alaskan Tra
The United States Coast Guard has announced that a joint investigation between the Washington Department of Ecology, the U.S. Coast Guard and Alaska Tanker Company is underway for the purpose determining why anchors on two different vessels engaged in the Alaskan crude trades failed, and were lost at sea. The January 11th press release said “In late December, the Alaskan Frontier and Alaskan Navigator lost anchors in heavy weather while transiting from Valdez, Alaska, to Long Beach, California. There were no injuries to the crew or harm to the environment in either incident. A subsequent inspection of the remaining anchor on each vessel revealed a material defect in each anchor. ATC has taken the vessels out of service until replacement anchors can be installed. ATC is working with the ship's manufacturer, NASSCO, to understand the anchor failure.”
In late December, the anchors on the Alaskan Frontier and the Alaskan Navigator were discovered missing when the crude tankers were being discharged at Long Beach, CA. Preliminary investigations have revealed material defects in the remaining, 16-ton, 4 meter long anchors. As yet, no one knows exactly where the anchors were lost in transit. In heavy weather, ATC prudently keeps their seafarers off the deck for safety reasons.
Both the Alaskan Frontier and the Alaskan Navigator are Alaska class vessels, delivered between 2004 and 2005, and employ environmentally-friendly design, incorporating double-hulls, dual rudders and dual engineering suites. The redundancies are intended to prevent one single system failure from incapacitating the vessel. The $250 million vessels have a nominal capacity of about 1.3 million barrels and were delivered to ATC by shipbuilder National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. of San Diego.
Both vessels are now empty and in port, where new anchors will be installed. Although the idling of the two vessels takes certain carriage capacity out the ANSCO supply equation, no impact to Alaska North Slope crude oil supply was expected, according to the joint release. Two other remaining vessels of the same class are also in service, but when these vessels arrive at their intended ports of call, their anchors will also be inspected.
According to ATC’s WEB site, the Alaska Tanker Company (ATC) was created in 1999 by Keystone Shipping Company, (37.5%), OSG Ship Management (37.5%) and BP Oil Shipping Company, USA (25%) to consolidate all of BP’s Alaskan crude oil shipping requirements into one operating company.