An interesting article I came across this morning …
During the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council board meeting in January, we heard a lot about the transition of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.'s marine services contract to Edison Chouest Offshore.
The services provided under this contract include escort tugs, general purpose tugs, oil recovery storage barges, and personnel, all of which are key oil spill prevention and response assets for the Valdez Marine Terminal and oil tankers operating in Prince William Sound.
Many on the council believe some drills and exercises should be conducted at, or near, “closure limits,” when the weather is severe enough to close Hinchinbrook Entrance, the main access for oil tankers entering the Sound. Currently, closure occurs at the entrance when winds exceed 45 knots or seas exceed 15 feet.
I am thankful to hear this from council members, however I am concerned we are not hearing the same from the people who have the most influence and power to get this accomplished.
While we hear reassurances that indeed there will be drills, and exercises in Alaska, we are also hearing “water is water” and “tugs are tugs.” We have also been told it is not safe to conduct exercises at or near closure conditions.
But how else can we verify the ability of tugs and crews to operate in the heavy weather common in the Sound, especially during the winter months?
[QUOTE=Steamer;195355]“But how else can we verify the ability of tugs and crews to operate in the heavy weather common in the Sound, especially during the winter months?”
No need to waste time or money on that sort of thing, you can trust Mr. Gary and his kids, they were in Alaska once and even built a tugboat just for you.[/QUOTE]
Daman has designed and built tugs for operation all over the world. If there are anybody who know tug and towage, it is the Dutch.
Machinery and equipment will be from Rolls Royce Marine, so there should not be much doubt about quality.
As to OPERATIONAL knowledge and capability?? I defer opinion to those who know more about ECO.
BTW These are Escort tugs, not large AHTS for ice operation.
The author of the article, Captain Amanda Bauer, also wrote:
A properly planned sequence of exercises could verify capabilities and quantify the limits of safe operations. There is a precedent for this. Crowley Maritime, the current marine services contractor, simulated “saving” a tanker in heavy weather in 2004.
If we agree that the equipment is probably more than up to the task, and indeed the “human factor” becomes most important, I am wondering if any of those personnel who participated in the exercise in 2004 are still out there today? That was 13 years ago.
Anybody else bothered by the author using the El Faro tragedy in her article?
Is extrapolating her experience as a tour boat operator to escort tug operations fair?
She is speaking as the head of the Prince William Sound Citizens Advisory Council, an important and well informed leadership position. 25 years of experience working on tour boats on the Sound is a hell of a lot more and better experience than most of ECO’s bayou boys are going to have.
We have seen what ECO’s most senior towing captains know how to do using a state-of-the-art $200 million vessel with the best Rolls Royce equipment — tight-line a too short tow wire until it parts off, and puts KULLUK on the rocks — Permanently killing Arctic oil exploration.
Some say that ECO will be ok because they will hire Crowley’s experienced crews. That won’t happen. Most of Crowley’s experienced captains are at, or beyond, retirement age. There was a lot of turnover of mates and other crew — a limited number of PWS experienced guys available there. Are guys with years invested into a union retirement plan really going to move to hire and fire at will, bayou mindset, ECO, instead of other union vessels? My guess is that ECO won’t hire more than a handful of the Crowley people, and they’ll all be gone within a year.
What is ECO’s harsh environment tanker escort experience? Zero? Who at ECO knows how to steam off into the Gulf of Alaska in winter storm condition and rescue a disabled tanker? Nobody?
Giving this contract to ECO is the beginning link in the chain of causation leading to another upcoming disaster