Just before midnight on January 11, the escort tug Courageous allided with the tanker Polar Endeavour, which had just finished loading crude oil at Berth 4 at the Valdez Marine Terminal.
An “allision” occurs when a moving vessel comes in contact with a stationary object or vessel.
A “collision” occurs when both objects or vessels are moving when contact occurred.
The Courageous is owned and operated by Edison Chouest Offshore, the contractor who provides spill prevention and response services for Alyeska.
The tug was approaching the fully loaded tanker to assist the tanker as it prepared for departure. The tug struck the hull of the Endeavour, damaging a ballast water tank. Some of that ballast water was released into Port Valdez. The Endeavour carries crude oil in cargo tanks that are separate from the ballast water tanks, so there was no oil in the damaged tank and none was spilled.
ConocoPhillips, the company that owns the Endeavour, made temporary repairs onsite. The U.S. Coast Guard inspected the tanker and approved it to sail to Long Beach, California, for permanent repairs.
One mariner aboard the Courageous received minor injuries and is expected to fully recover.
The U.S. Coast Guard is still conducting its investigation, however initial reports indicate it appears that the incident was caused by human error.
At the January meeting of the Council’s Board of Directors, Alyeska noted several remedial actions, including restricting the use of autopilot in certain areas and clarifying standing orders.
The Council is tracking this incident and the subsequent changes and will provide advice on how to prevent a similar incident in the future.