With deep regret, by late Friday night, IMC had formally accepted that the six seafarers who remain missing following the crash of a United States Coast Guard’s rescue helicopter must now be presumed dead. Peter Chew, Group Managing Director of IMC made a statement through the Joint Command Information Centre following the Coast Guard’s announcement that the Search and Rescue operation was halted by nightfall on Friday. IMC continues to mourn its missing men and is doing all it can for their families and loved ones.
Frederick Chavalit Tsao, the IMC Chairman, arrived in Alaska on Saturday morning to see the crew of the Selendang Ayu and meet all involved in the emergency operations. On Sunday he was in Juneau to meet Admiral James C. Olson of the United States Coast Guard and he has met the young cadet crewmember who was rescued from the water following the helicopter crash.
The rest of the survivors are expected to arrive in Anchorage from Kodiak Island and Dutch Harbor today. Mr. Tsao expressed his deep gratitude to the US Coast Guard and praised their dedication and bravery. He said that IMC would continue to do everything possible to contribute to the oil spill response.
The focus of operations is now wholly on the vessel and its fuel oil. Bad weather had severely hampered operations until Sunday, which was a much calmer day. At a press conference in Anchorage on Sunday afternoon, the Captain of the Port in Dutch Harbor, Ron Morris, said, ‘We are very thankful that we finally have a good day to start getting things done.’ He said it is estimated that 40,000 gallons of fuel has been lost so far. It is hoped that the cold weather and location of tanks will prevent much further fuel escaping (in low temperatures fuel oil solidifies and cannot flow easily). A fuel oil skimmer and barges from Dutch Harbor will soon be moving to Skan Bay, where the ship is lying.
In addition, on Sunday, three salvage experts were lowered onto the stern section of the vessel to further assess the condition of the wreck and the fuel oil tank
s. Their initial report indicated that that five out of six cargo holds on the stern section and one fuel oil tank were breached and that the engine room
was flooded even with sea level. A vessel, the Cape Flattery, is expected to return to Skan Bay today to boom sensitive river mouth areas and to land five wildlife and bird experts to assess the impact of any oil lost and to recover any oiled birds.