Friday, December 3, 2010

Cargo ship adrift, threatens Aleutian Islands

A cargo ship laden with rapeseed for making canola oil is adrift without power in the Bering Sea some 44 miles northwest of Atka Island.

The problem sounds fairly dire. The crew of the 738-foot Golden Seas, seen in the photograph, reports the ship's engine can't be repaired at sea, says this Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation situation report issued at 4 p.m.

"The engine is able to turn the ship's propeller, but not with sufficient power for the vessel to hold its position or make headway," the report says. "The vessel is adrift and currently being driven by prevailing wind and seas toward the northwest shore of Atka Island at a speed of approximately 2.5 knots. Current projections have the ship making landfall there in approximately 14 hours."

The good news is two Shell Oil offshore work boats at Dutch Harbor, the Tor Viking II and the Nanuq, have been contracted to go get the cargo ship. But they're many miles away.

Of course, U.S. Coast Guard assets are responding, too.

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