The debate surrounding the cost to value of advnanced tractor tugs
is ongoing in the marine business, as most normal operations do not always require the swift manuevers and brute strength these vessels posses. Some owners say the tugboats as “overkill”, and bemoan the higher cost of maintenance in comparison to traditionally driven boats.
When an incident such as the one that was recently logged in the Prince William Sound of Alaska happens, though, the tremendous value of these impressive tugboats is apparent and without compare.
On July 10, two Crowley escort tugs prevented an accident between an oil tanker and fishing vessel in Prince William Sound. An oil tanker had just passed Entrance Island at the head of the Valdez Narrows when
it came upon the fishing vessel Orion setting its seine net across the tanker's traffic lane. When the fishing vessel failed to respond to repeated radio contacts, the pilot, tanker's bridge team and Alyeska's escort vessels went into action. The pilot called for Alyeska SERVS' tethered escort tug Aware to pull back at 80 tons, and directed the second escort tug Guard to the bow to act as a buffer and steady up the ship's heading if needed. The quick and professional action of the tug crews brought the outbound laden tanker to a complete stop within two ship lengths, and held the tanker safely in position until the fishing vessel cleared its gear from the tanker's path, allowing it to resume safe transit out of Prince William Sound.
Commendations from the Coast Guard and Prince William Sound Regional Citizen's Advisory Council were
presented to the captains and crews of the Crowley tugs Aware and Guard.
Commander Peyton Coleman of the Marine Safety Office in Valdez, Alaska, presented commendations to the Captain and crew of the Crowley tugs Aware and Guard for the "superb professionalism" they displayed during the escort of the tanker Chevron Mississippi.
In addition, the Prince William Sound Regional Citizen's Advisory Committee commended the crews of the Aware and the Guard for responding quickly, professionally and effectively to prevent what could have been a catastrophic accident. They also commended Alyeska, Crowley, Chevron Shipping Company and Southwest Pilots Association for providing a system that fosters teamwork.