April 5, 2010
At approximately 3 a.m. today, The Corpus Christi safely arrived in Port Angeles, where repairs will be done. The vessel will be inspected by vessel inspectors from the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Ecology.
April 4, 2010
The state-funded emergency response tug Hunter is escorting a tug and fully loaded petroleum barge to Port Angeles for inspection and possible repairs.
The Hunter met up with the tug Corpus Christi at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday about 40 miles southwest of the Columbia River entrance. The Hunter stood by through the night in case the articulated tug and barge (ATB) needed assistance. This morning, because of continued rough bar conditions on the Columbia River and a forecast for conditions to worsen, tug and barge owner U.S. Shipping Corp. decided to move the vessels north to Port Angeles for repairs.
The Coast Guard and Ecology have agreed with the change in plans. The Hunter is under contract to U.S. Shipping Corp. for the voyage.
The ATB is proceeding to Port Angeles for inspection and repairs at normal sea speed for weather conditions. Appropriate industry technical experts, along with Coast Guard and Ecology vessel inspectors, will participate in the inspection. Final plans will be developed by the company and approved by the Coast Guard.
The vessels are expected to arrive in Port Angeles early Monday. The Hunter will switch roles with another Crowley Maritime tug, the Valor, as the Corpus Christi passes Neah Bay this evening.
April 3, 2010
At 10:00 a.m. today, the Department of Ecology dispatched the state-funded emergency response tug Hunter stationed at Neah Bay. The Hunter was sent to standby the vessel. At about 1:30 pm, the US Coast Guard issued a Captain of the Port order that among other things directed the tug and barge to proceed further offshore, and to obtain towing or escort assistance before attempting to enter port.
As of approximately 3 p.m. today, the vessel operator entered into a direct contract for the tug HUNTER which is still underway to standby and assist as needed. The state is ensuring that a backfill tug will soon be in place at Neah Bay.
April 2, 2010
Maritime Incident Alert: This is a precautionary notification, we do not believe there is an imminent hazard nor has an oil spill occurred.
Ecology was notified at 3:15 pm today that an articulated tug and oil barge (ATB) was experiencing difficulties southwest of Washington’s coast. The ATB was heading south after departing Puget Sound with a full load of oil, when it experienced two problems and had to turn around and head north. The problems are:
- The connection between the tug and barge began overheating when a wave shutdown a generator that energizes an important lubricating system.
- The tug experienced flooding into the emergency generator space. If emergency electrical power is needed it will not be available.
The tug Corpus Christi and barge Petrochem Supplier are owned by US Shipping Corporation. The captain of the vessel requested safe harbor in the Columbia River. However the Columbia River Bar Pilots determined that it would not be safe for the vessel to cross the Columbia River bar during the storm until the “seas” are below 15 feet. The barge is reported to be carrying as much as 150,000 barrels of oil (6.3 million gallons) of heavy vacuum gas oil. Vacuum Gas Oil is typically a heavy residue from the refining process, with minimal volatilization at ambient temperatures, and tends to be dark colored, and may behave like a heavy fuel oil if spilled.
At 5:00 pm, April 2, 2010 the ATB was approximately 40 miles off of the northern Oregon coast. The northern coast of Oregon and coast of Washington are experiencing a severe storm. At the time this message was prepared, there were 20 foot ocean swells (waves) out of the southwest off the Columbia River. There were sustained winds of 30 knots, gusting to 40 knots.
The current plan is for:
- The ATB to remain 20-25 miles offshore of Columbia River bar to wait out the weather, and then cross the bar and transit to Astoria, OR when the weather improves.
- The vessel crew will continue to take actions to cool the overheating attachment pins between the barge and tug.
- The weather situation is not expected to abate until sometime late Saturday or early Sunday.
As the situation evolves, the Department of Ecology will continue to work closely with the Coast Guard and other partners to monitor the situation and ensure proper precautions are taken, with the goal of protecting the state’s natural and economic resources from the risk of a large oil spill.