Tug grounds in Alaska’s Neva Strait, rupturing fuel tank

(KODIAK, Alaska) — A unified command consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and Western Towboat continued to lead the response efforts Thursday for the grounded tug in the Neva Strait, an incident that occurred Monday morning.

The tug owner, Western Towboat, contracted Hanson Maritime, SEAPRO and Global Diving & Salvage, who are currently on scene and continuing pollution recovery efforts and salvage planning.

Three thousand gallons of diesel has been pumped from a ruptured tank aboard the tug, and approximately 850 gallons of diesel has been recovered from the water within the containment boom area. An estimated 30,000 gallons of diesel remains on the tug and will be pumped off prior to salvage operations.

Coast Guard personnel are on scene to oversee response operations and continue the marine casualty investigation. Natural resource agency and Coast Guard personnel have assessed potential environmental impacts using oil trajectory models and the Coast Guard is consulting with federally recognized tribes in the area.

While transiting from the grounding site to Sitka on Tuesday afternoon, a small vessel participating in the response operations capsized due to high winds and rough sea conditions. All four people were safely recovered with no injuries and the capsized boat was towed to shore.

The cause of the incident is currently under investigation.


As of March 29, Western Mariner was successfully refloated and towed to a commercial dock in Sitka.

Western Mariner had an estimated 43,500 gallons of fuel on board at the time of the grounding. During the response all tanks, voids and spaces onboard the tug were inspected and emptied of diesel fuel. Global Diving & Salvage conducted measurements from recovery efforts of clean fuel and oily water mixture. Recovery estimates include approximately 33,040 gallons of fuel transferred from secure tanks to storage, 4,453 gallons of fuel recovered from the damaged tank, and 700 gallons were recovered from skimming operations.

Deployed responders collected 20 cubic yards of saturated sorbent material.

Shoreline cleanup operations were conducted on three sites in Neva Strait following shoreline treatment recommendations developed by the Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Techniques (SCAT) Team. Other shorelines in the incident area were determined to be clear of significant and actionable oil presence. Operations included deluge operations that utilize high-volume, low-pressure seawater to flush trapped oil from the beach which was collected by sorbent material.

Environmentally sensitive areas identified by local stakeholders to be at risk were surveyed to assess oil impacts. On Monday, April 4, the SCAT Team returned to Neva Strait to conduct an assessment of the shoreline treatment operations and determined that one site requires further treatment that took place the morning of April 5. Additional assessment on total shoreline cleanup efforts will be conducted in the near future.

No sheening was observed in areas that were opened to state fisheries or test fishing, as is consistent with the state of Alaska’s zero-tolerance policy with respect to fuel contamination of seafood. The unified command has engaged with the Tribes to determine concerns and whether subsistence harvest areas have been impacted due to the incident.


(JUNEAU, Alaska) — The U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and Western Towboat have established a unified command in response to a tugboat grounding in the Neva Strait on Monday.

Watch standers in the Sector Juneau command center received a radio call at 2:55 a.m. from the tug Western Mariner stating that while towing Chichagof Provider, a 286-foot containerized barge, in Neva Strait, the barge collided with the tug, causing it to run hard aground. The collision caused a rupture to one of the tug’s fuel tanks, which contains a maximum capacity of 13,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

U.S. Coast Guard photo

No injuries have been reported and all four crewmembers were safely transferred from the 83-foot inspected tug to a nearby vessel. All fuel manifolds on board the tug have been secured to isolate the ruptured tank, and fuel offload efforts have commenced.

A sheen was observed around the tug, and containment measures have been deployed to reduce the spread of oil. The tug owner, Western Towboat, has contracted Hanson Maritime, SEAPRO, and Global Diving & Salvage to respond.

Multiple vessels, including tugs Banner and Salvation, and fishing vessel Nushagak Spirit, are on scene tending the barge, which has now been anchored in Neva Strait with no impact to vessel traffic.

The Coast Guard has deployed responders to oversee response operations. Natural resource agencies are assessing potential environmental impacts, and the Coast Guard is consulting with federally recognized tribes in the area.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

– U.S. Coast Guard

By Rich Miller