Response crews complete salvage of tug 'Polar Wind' & its barge 'Unimak Trader' from Ukolnoi Island, 40 miles east of Cold Bay.
The five-person crew of the Polar Wind was rescued Nov. 13 after the tug ran aground and began taking on water. The crew was reportedly attempting to recover the barge after their towline parted.
The fuel quantity aboard the Polar Wind at the time of the grounding was estimated to be more 20,500 gallons of diesel and the barge was reportedly carrying 1,800 gallons of diesel.
“The teamwork between federal, state, local and tribal partners working together with industry resulted in an outstanding and professional response,” said Capt. Paul Mehler III, commander, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. “The crews were able to resolve a complex and logistically challenging job without adversely impacting the maritime environment and ensured the safety of responders.”
Responders removed more than 13,000 gallons of diesel fuel and lube oils and refloated the Polar Wind towing it to Sand Point where it was safely docked. The barge, Unimak Trader, was refloated soon afterwards
Prior to the barge being towed, 97 refrigerated shipping containers, including 33 which contained more than 1,475,000 pounds of frozen seafood products, were transferred from the Unimak Trader to another barge and were safely delivered to Dutch Harbor.
“The extreme weather and sea conditions our crews faced, coupled with the remote location, introduced challenges that were largely overcome through the involvement of the local communities and fishermen,” said Kerry Walsh, marine casualty project manager and salvage master, Global Diving and Salvage. “Their expertise in the local conditions contributed greatly to the safe and successful outcome.”