Lightering begins on tug Pathfinder in Prince William Sound

by Hans | December 26th, 2009

VALDEZ, Alaska – The Crowley tugboat Pathfinder remains at anchor south of Busby Island and surrounded by containment boom with spill responders staged nearby.

After suspending lightering Friday morning, the unified command authorized restarting lightering diesel fuel from the Pathfinder’s two damaged fuel tanks. Lightering has commenced with good fuel flow as of 4:15 p.m. and is estimated to take between six and 12 hours.

VALDEZ, Alaska – The Valdez Star begins preparation to lighter the tug Pathfinder south of Busby Island and is surrounded by containment boom with spill responders staged nearby Dec. 25, 2009. The Pathfinder crew had completed an ice survey and was heading back to its port in Valdez when the vessel struck the Bligh reef Dec. 23, 2009. (Photo courtesy of John Engles. )

Over-flights earlier in the day identified a 50-foot by one mile sheen that extends south of the Pathfinder’s boom. The boom was temporarily compromised overnight. This afternoon responders have a secondary boom to assist in containing the diesel. Seepage from the Pathfinder is contained and is being recovered by the skimmer equipment in the boom. Openwater responders have deployed skimming systems staged both inside and outside of the boom to recover diesel fuel if it escapes the tanks open to the water.

Salvage operator TITAN Marine is on scene to further evaluate the damage to the tug in preparation for towing the Pathfinder back to the Port of Valdez following lightering.

Coast Guard from the National Strike Force is expected to arrive on scene on Saturday morning to provide more technical expertise, personnel support, and towing assistance.

The incident is under investigation by the Coast Guard. Crowley is cooperating fully with the investigation while focusing on continuing to recover the diesel fuel and prepare for towing the tug Pathfinder to the port of Valdez. Results of the investigation will be made available once it is complete.

Source: Alaska Coast Guard Public Affairs – KTVA

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