Sunday, October 19, 2014

Foss Maritime: Always Ready!

Two Foss tugs are in the news this evening!

The Corbin Foss is laying over at Valparaiso, Chile, and the Barbara Foss is towing a stricken container vessel to Prince Rupert, B.C.

The Corbin Foss is on an  an epic voyage from Bremerton Washington to Brownsville Texas, towing the aircraft carrier Constellation. She arrived at Portina Bay on Thursday October 16th.
Leaving her tow on the hook, she's in port for refueling, re-supply, and a complete crew change. From Bremerton to Valparaiso, she averaged 5.1 knots (5.8 mph). By comparison, joggers can reach a speed of 6 mph, or 5.2 knots!

You can follow her progress by clicking the button in the right margin of this Blog.

Meanwhile, her sister the Barbara Foss, left her AquaTrain rail barge alongside at Prince Rupert, and is towing the stranded container ship M/V Simushir to Prince Rupert.

The Simushir is owned by Sakhalin Shipping Company, SASCO, and her unusually narrow beam contributes to her ice-class hull's ability to navigate through ice on northern routes.

The container ship Simushir lost power off the Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), specifically off the coast of the southern Island, Moresby, Thursday (Oct. 16th). Video of the Simushir shows how tender she is in open ocean.

■  IMO: 9179385
■  Gross tonnage: 6,540 tons
■  Summer DWT: 9,405 tons
■  Length: 135 m (442.9 feet)
■  Beam: 16 m (52.4 feet; a typical US fire hose is 50 feet in length!)
■  Draft: 4.9 m (16 feet)

Initial contact with the Simushir was made by the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Gordon Reid.   She passed the first towline Friday evening at 6:30 PST.She struggled to pull the container ship off-shore, but her towline parted three times!

A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter from 19 Wing Comox was dispatched to the scene. The helicopter evacuated the vessel master to Sandspit, where his care was turned over to BC Emergency Healthcare.

The financial director of Russia’s Sakhalin Shipping Company, the owners of the vessel, told Tass on Saturday, that “Captain Dmitry Chernysh injured his face and arm while on the bridge during the storm. He was evacuated by helicopter of Canada’s border guard service and delivered to a hospital in the city of Vancouver where he underwent an operation on his face and his arm was given care, too.

Now he has been discharged from hospital (Sunday) and is in a hotel.” “Other crew members are on the board and feel OK,” he said. “On Tuesday another captain will fly from Sakhalin to replace injured Chernysh.”

Unfortunately, he was the only crew member who spoke English.  Interesting.

The Barbara Foss arrived on scene at 5:30 pm Saturday and has control of the situation. Sunday morning, the Council of the Haida Nation reported the Barbara Foss towing the Simushir north of Kiis Gwaii (Langara Island) traveling east at 7 knots, destined for Prince Rupert.

The Ice Breaker CCGS Sir Wilfred Laurier and USCG Buoy Tender Spar accompanies them; the Gordon Reid is back in normal patrol.

There is much to be considered with the stranding of the Simushir. Development of the Alberta Oil Sands, and North Dakota Bakken Crude, both "dirty crudes," project a heavy increase in tanker traffic to the Far East, with up to 500 tankers per year transiting this Great Circle Route, past the Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands.)

This stranding has created much angst, especially with the First Nations, about the safety of vessel passage. What can be accomplished should a vessel suffer a propulsion breakdown?

To the south, an emergency response towing vessel (ERTV) rescue tug, Jeffery Foss, is stationed in Neah Bay, Washington. She's on station to assist vessel stranding in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. But that leaves a vast stretch of open North Pacific virtually exposed to potential disaster, a fact that convolutes conservationists and energy promoters.
In closing, it should be noted that both the Corbin and Barbara Foss have been on station with the Canadian National AquaTrain service between Prince Rupert British Columbia and Whittier Alaska.

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