Update - February 27, 2012. Sause Brothers Kokua, and Shaver's Vancouver, successfully escorted the PCTC Morning Spruce to Portland Oregon.
The Morning Spruce arrived in the early morning hours, and is now alongside Port of Portland Terminal 6. The US Coast Guard will audit the repairs, insuring the vessel is seaworthy following an engine breakdown.
Located at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, Terminal 6 covers some 51 acres, and is touted as a state of the art auto marshaling facility. Another iconic tug company, Tidewater Barge Lines, is located just across the river in Vancouver Washington.
I can hear the keyboards clattering! "This is supposed to be a railroad blog. What in heck is a story about a ship breaking down off the Oregon Coast yesterday (Sunday) morning got to to with 'Oil-Electric?'"
As it turns out, personal. A lot to do with "Oil-Electric."
News outlets were reporting "The Coast Guard is coordinating actions to protect the Oregon Coast from any threat posed by the 648-foot, Singapore-flagged car-carrier Morning Spruce that lost all power and was adrift in 12-foot seas, for approximately 4½ hours, southwest of the Columbia River entrance Sunday.
"Coast Guard Sector Columbia River Oregon received a call from Morning Spruce at approximately 11:09 a.m., stating the vessel had lost all engine power approximately 12 miles southwest of the Columbia River entrance."
Fortunately, the Morning Spruces engineer was able to restore the ship’s power Sunday afternoon. And the Coast Guard directed the Morning Spruce to remain offshore until repairs to the ship have been verified.
The Morning Spruce will require an escort from at least one seagoing tug before being allowed to cross the Columbia River bar. The Morning Spruce will anchor in Astoria and remain there until Coast Guard investigators and inspectors have thoroughly examined the ship.
The Sause Brothers tug Kokua is scheduled to arrive alongside the Morning Spruce at approximately 4:30 p.m. A second tug is scheduled to arrive at approximately 9 p.m. The vessel contains approximately 543,000 gallons of heavy, diesel and lube oil along with a full shipment of cars.
"We are fortunate on two counts today,” said Capt. Bruce Jones, Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Sector Columbia River. “First, that the ship lost propulsion more than ten miles offshore and drifted generally south rather than east toward shore, and second, that there happened to be an available tug of opportunity approaching Astoria at the time.”
I became curious to learn more about the tug Kokua, owned by Sause Brothers Ocean Towing, out of Coos Bay Oregon. As I studied the photograph of the tugboat, it became clear that I had been aboard that vessel many times back in the 1970's.
My Dad had been Chief Engineer aboard that vessel. And sure enough, the notation near the bottom of the page confirmed this vessel's original name was the Mikiona! My Dad finished his maritime career on the Mikiona in the summer of 1972.
The vessels name was changed to Kokua when Salt Chuck purchased Hawaiian Tug & Barge from Dillingham Corporation in 1982.
I have the letter from my Dad, about his posting on the Mikiona. This letter was written Sunday August 18, 1968, as they lay alongside Bethlehem ship yard in San Francisco. They were replacing a few bottom plates on the massive grain barge Dillingham Hawaiian Tug & Barge ran from Sacramento, topped off in Astoria (deeper water) and towed to Honolulu.
As Dad says, the barge apparently "sat on something" while being loaded in Astoria.
"This my first trip on the Mikiona. Its a fairly new boat (built in Portland, Oregon) at Albina in 1965. (Hull Number 372.) It feels a lot better riding on something you can depend on.
"Actually not much bigger than a Miki type but laid out a lot better. I took Mother down to see it and she was quite thrilled.
"A twin stack twin screw with two O.P. Fairbanks Model 38D - 8½ type engines 1667 HP each at 750 RPM. Kind of hard on the ears but I wear plugs and its not too bad.
"Coming over (from Hawaii) we had good weather and with the light barge making 11 knots 265 miles per day. That faster than the old Barbara (Foss, LT 376) could do running light.
"3-76 GM auxiliaries and all AC power except the towing machines (two) and use a converter for DC current.
"The quarters are comfortable and everybody up topside. 2 engineers in 1 large room, and the Chief (Dad) has a large room. Fully air conditioned - all electric galley. Dishwasher garbage disposal unit, Toaster and coffee makers, automatic washer and dryer.
"Altho there is no water maker on board, we carry 8,000 gallons of fresh water so there is no problem. The food is good a lot better than the Inter Island boats where it is mostly fish and Poi."
As for the Morning Spruce, she is safely inside the Columbia River Bar, and holding in Astoria Oregon, awaiting Coast Guard approval that repairs motor repairs are sound, and she is capable of making the 100 mile journey to Portland Oregon, involving more than 140 course changes.
PCTC Morning Spruce
Class: PCTC - Pure Car & Truck Carrier
Capacity: 5,340 CEU. Pure Car Carriers (PCC) cargo capacity is often measured in RT or RT43 units which is based on a 1966 Toyota or by car equivalent units (CEU).
Length: 198 m (649 feet)
Beam: 32 m (104 feet)
Draft: 9.1 m (30 feet)