Maritime Operations

Tanker and escort in Prince William Sound.

Tanker and one of its two escorts in Prince William Sound.

The Maritime Operations program reviews port organization, operations, incidents, and the adequacy and maintenance of the vessel traffic system. Major program components include monitoring changes to the escort system, monitoring and studying the ice from Columbia Glacier, reviewing best available technology  for the escort system and the Vessel Emergency Response Plan, participating with the Valdez Marine Safety Committee, and supporting the maintenance of NOAA's weather stations.

Maritime Operations Projects

Please see links in the sidebar for more information on projects within this program.

Maritime Operations - Recent News:

Council issues position on safe crude oil tanker transit and escort vessel operation in the Sound

The Council voted unanimously on January 18, 2018, to pass a resolution stating that oil tankers and escort vessels should not be permitted to transit through Prince William Sound and into the Gulf of Alaska in weather conditions which have been determined by industry to be unsafe for training. The resolution was prompted by the upcoming change in marine service contract providers by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System, including crude oil tanker escort vessel services, effective July 2018. Council executive director Donna Schantz stated, “The oil tanker escort system in Prince William Sound is an essential oil spill prevention measure that is vital to reducing the risk of another catastrophic event, such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.” “If it is unsafe to train personnel, it is unsafe to transport oil,” said Council Board president Amanda Bauer. “This position does not just apply to the incoming contractor, but sets the standard to which the council feels all future new contractors, equipment and crews should be held. We believe strongly that these standards are needed to ensure the economic and environmental safety of the communities and groups we represent.”Print PDF

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Council representatives visit Louisiana shipyards

Visitors come away impressed with new construction and Edison Chouest Offshore personnel New information shared with the Council along with tours of Edison Chouest facilities has begun to alleviate some concerns related to the change of marine services contractors in Prince William Sound, although some concerns remain. Tours of facilities Council representatives visited Louisiana in May, June, and October to tour Edison Chouest’s shipyards, headquarters, and training facilities, where the company is building the new escort tugs and response vessels that will make up the Prince William Sound oil spill prevention and response system starting next year. The visitors were given unfettered access to Edison Chouest’s staff and the opportunity to ask questions about their operations. Those present were impressed with the facilities and the company culture focusing on safety and cultivating competent staff. The quality of workmanship and use of new technologies were also on display.Print PDF … Continue reading

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Planning for marine services changeover under way

The changeover for the marine services contract for Alyeska is underway. By July of 2018, Edison Chouest Offshore, or ECO, of Louisiana will replace Crowley Marine Services for prevention and response services in Prince William Sound. Crowley Marine Services has held the contract since the creation of Alyeska’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Changeover planning Most of the current activity involves planning for the change. Even though the new vessels will not be arriving in Alaska until next year, ECO will be hiring personnel this year to begin training. Print PDF … Continue reading

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Report identifies concerns with tanker escort tugs being built for service in Prince William Sound

The council has identified some areas of concern with the design of the new escort and general purpose tugs under construction by Edison Chouest Offshore for use in Prince William Sound. These concerns and recommendations result from a council-commissioned analysis of the tugs by Robert Allan Ltd., a naval architecture and marine engineering company. Edison Chouest Offshore is taking over the marine services contract for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company in the summer of 2018. Crowley Maritime has held the contract since the creation of Alyeska’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The services provided under this contract include escort tugs, general purpose tugs, oil recovery storage barges, and associated personnel, all of which are key oil spill prevention and response assets for the Valdez Marine Terminal and associated oil tankers operating in Prince William Sound. Robert Allan Ltd. was contracted by the council to review and evaluate drawings and other vessel design materials provided by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. This review includes information that was provided to the council as of December 14, 2016. Print PDF

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