Update: This article ran in the May issue of our newsletter, The Observer, stay tuned for updates in the next issue!
Crowley Marine Services, the contractor who provides oil spill prevention and response services to Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, will no longer provide those services after June 30, 2018.
Crowley has held this contract with Alyeska since the company created its Ship Escort/Response Vessel System, also known as SERVS, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Crowley also provided tanker docking services since 1977, and helped dock the first tanker at the Valdez terminal.
Crowley owns the powerful tugboats that escort loaded oil tankers through Prince William Sound. The tugs also scout for ice drifting from nearby Columbia Glacier, and are equipped to start cleaning up a spill or tow a disabled tanker if needed. In addition to the escort tugs, Crowley owns response tugs that help the tankers dock and other support vessels and barges stationed in Prince William Sound which contain Alyeska’s boom, skimmers, and other equipment for a quick response to an oil spill.
Crowley employs 230 mariners and 17 administrative personnel in the area.
The contract was up for renewal this year, and in March, the company was informed that their bid had not been accepted.
“We bid this contract very aggressively and are extremely disappointed that we were not selected to retain this business,” said Tom Crowley, Crowley’s chairman and CEO, in a company news release.
A new contractor is expected to be formally named this summer.
“The understanding and expectation conveyed is that the new services will meet or exceed current system, with several technological enhancements from what is in place today,” said Donna Schantz, executive director of the council. “This results in a significant change in equipment and people with experience, and the transition will need to be handled very carefully. Alyeska/SERVS is looking to develop a complex management of change process, and they have said that they will be seeking our input as they move forward.”
The council will be working on formal recommendations for the escort system in the coming months.