Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Foss Launch & Tug: Alaska Roughneck

I inherited a large collection of photographs and negatives from my Dad, Harry McDonald. He worked most of his life on tugboats in the Pacific Northwest. In 1964, oil surveys conducted in the late 1950's took off, and construction began on a series of offshore oil wells in Cook Inlet, Alaska.

The Alaska Roughneck was built at the Brown Shipbuilding Company in Houston, Texas, as a U.S. Navy landing ship medium (LSM) 116. She was commissioned on December 6. 1944 and participated in the assault on Okinawa in April 1945. The ship was decommissioned by the Navy in April 1946 and held in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

In October 1958 the ship was sold to the Foss Launch and Tug Company for use as a supply vessel. Pan American Petroleum, Sinclair Oil and Phillips Petroleum were gearing up for construction of the offshore oil platforms in Cook Inlet, and Foss was eager to be involved.

The Alaska Roughneck, along with her sisters Alaska Constructor and Alaska Huskey supported drill jacket installation in the Middle Ground Shoal area and other sites, beginning in 1964. These were the first offshore oil wells installed in Cook Inlet, Alaska. The drill jackets (legs) were manufactured by Kaiser in Oakland, California and Foss tugs towed them up the west coast to Cook Inlet.

When originally built, the ship had two Fairbanks Morse 38D8 1/8th 10 cylinder opposed piston marine diesel engines that supplied 1440 brake horse power (bhp) @720 rpm to her two propeller shafts. She had an overall length or 203’6” with a 34 foot beam, and was capable of 13.2 knots at a displacement of 928 long tons.

After Foss purchased the ship, they modified her by building a pilothouse forward, just above the bow ramp. The Navy had a small conning tower aft on the starboard side, which was removed. Foss shortened the ship to 139 feet, when she was modified for carrying cargo and towing in Cook Inlet.

The Alaska Roughneck rolled over and sank during a storm, in Cold Bay, Alaska, with the loss of two lives, on February 28, 1979.

She is photographed here in Cook Inlet in 1964 by Harry McDonald, Chief Engineer of the Mary Foss.

1 Comments - Click here:

Kurt Clark said...

Love that name: "Alaska Roughneck." Sort of embodies the spirit of the state back then.

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