Tanker leaves Alaska without cargo after crack in deck discovered

On March 27, crewmembers aboard S/R Baytown discovered a hairline crack between 4 and 4.5 inches in length on the port side of the vessel’s cargo tank top while conducting a routine walking of the deck. The vessel was docked in the Alyeska Marine Terminal in Valdez, Alaska, at the time.

As Baytown’s owner and operator, SeaRiver Maritime Inc. notified authorities of the incident. The company submitted a proposal to the U.S. Coast Guard station in Valdez regarding how best to proceed. On March 28, Baytown left Valdez for a repair yard in Port Angeles, Wash., without its scheduled cargo of oil.

As the incident is still under investigation, neither the Coast Guard nor SeaRiver Maritime would comment on the cause of the fracture.

“Metallurgical studies (and) assessment (of the incident) are still not complete,” said External Affairs Manager for SeaRiver Maritime Ray Botto.

“This is still an open case,” said Lt. Karen Moss, the Coast Guard’s chief of Investigations and Inspections Division in Valdez. “We were notified after a crewmember found the cracking on the vessel on the cargo tank top on the deck of the vessel.”

She also indicated that the cracking posed no threat to the crew, the vessel or the environment.

SeaRiver Maritime confirmed that the fracture was hairline in width and between 4 and 4.5 inches in length.

The 780-foot-long ship is double-bottomed but not doubled-hulled. Built in 1984, it is slated for retirement in August 2012. Permanent repairs were made and the vessel returned to duty. •

Mac King

By Professional Mariner Staff