Crowley Secures Wayward Oil Tanker and Prevents Harm

Thursday, November 29, 2001
Crowley Marine Services successfully secured the wayward oil tanker, Atigun Pass, Thanksgiving weekend as it drifted within 20 miles of Oregon’s coastline. The decommissioned Atigun Pass, similar to the Exxon Valdez in size at three football fields in length, was en route from a Portland shipyard to Shanghai, China, for scrapping when the towline from the Chinese tug that was towing it snapped. When the towline parted early November 19, the tanker was about 100 miles west of Tillamook.

“The vessel contained more than 20,000 gallons of residual fuel oil, too thick and sticky to be pumped from its tank, and there was potential for a medium size spill and a costly wreck removal if it ran aground,” said Todd Busch, director, ship assists & escort services.

Driven by wind gust in excess of 50 mph and bucking ocean swells as high as 30 ft., four tugboat crews failed to regain control of the Atigun Pass Thursday. The vessel was traveling toward land at about 2 mph and was expected to come within 20 miles of Willapa Bay on Friday morning when Crowley was contracted to assist by Smit-Wijs, the Dutch company performing the tow. Crowley dispatched the 7,200 hp tugs, SeaVenture and SeaVictroy , for the job, and coordinated with federal and state agencies under the command of the Coast Guard during resecurement of the vessel.

“Early Thursday morning the crew of the SeaVenture passed its emergency Spectra towline from the tug to the salvage crew on the tanker. The crew of the tanker was able to secure it to the bow so that Crowley could begin pulling the shipout to sea, away from the ecologically sensitive shoreline,” said Busch. “Clearer weather and calmer seas later in the dya allowed us to re-secure the vessel to the DeDa, the 350-ft. Chinese tug originally hired to tow the Atigun Pass, with the emergency tow cable on the tanker.”

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