Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Vessel grounding shuts down Sound fishery

The fish tender Cape Cross. USCG photo

The grounding of the fish tender Cape Cross has prompted the Department of Fish and Game to close an area of western Prince William Sound to commercial fishing. Here's the announcement.

The concern is a potential fuel spill from the stricken vessel, which sits in Main Bay. A major salmon hatchery is located at the head of the bay.

Here is the latest on the situation from the U.S. Coast Guard:

July 27, 2010, 18:37 hours

VALDEZ — Three Ship Escort/Response Vessel System vessels arrived on scene with the fishing vessel Cape Cross in Main Bay at approximately 1:45 p.m. and have completely surrounded the vessel with boom containing the sheen and any potential fuel release from the vessel.

Although the vessel's fuel tanks do not appear to have been breached or leaking response crews have commenced exclusionary booming of the Main Bay salmon hatchery before lightering of fuel aboard the Cape Cross can begin.

Responders are assessing the stability of the Cape Cross through the tidal phases. Low tide is at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.

During low tide, R and R Diving Co. plans to install a temporary patch on the hull of the vessel. When the patch is secure, the Cape Cross will be repositioned to facilitate the lightering of all fuel onboard. Once all fuel is removed and the vessel is stable, efforts to remove the vessel from Main Bay may commence.

The owner hired Alaska Marine Surveyors to assist with pollution response and salvage of the vessel. The marine surveyor is heading to Main Bay and expected on scene this evening.

The Coast Guard cutter Long Island remains on scene to enforce the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's closure of the commercial fishery in Main Bay. A Coast Guard helicopter overflight is scheduled to take place Wednesday to gain a better perspective of the response and determine any environmental impact to the bay.

The Coast Guard continues to investigate the cause of the grounding and is monitoring all phases of the response and salvage.

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