Rescue tug called on to assist disabled tanker – 12/3

Happily, another non news item, for now! But this does show that our tax dollars are helping fund ships that leave and transit Canadian waters. It would seem that the Canadians ought to be helping pay for this tug, given that the tug did not originate in our waters.

State-funded tug  helped tanker off Washington coast – From D.O.Ecology

OLYMPIA – The state-funded emergency response tug stationed at Neah Bay was ready to respond to the aid of a 500-foot chemical tanker that lost power Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009, off of the Washington coast.

The tug named Hunter was dispatched Wednesday night to assist the Ginga Falcon, a chemical product tanker operating under a Panamanian flag. The tanker was sailing from Vancouver, B.C., to San Francisco.

The Ginga Falcon was carrying paraffin wax, caustic soda (a highly corrosive industrial chemical) and ethylene glycol (a toxic liquid used in antifreeze and deicing solutions). A photograph of the Ginga Falcon can be found here:

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) was notified of the situation yesterday afternoon when the U.S. Coast Guard (Coast Guard) requested the Hunter be placed on standby for the incident.

At the time of the Coast Guard request, the response tug had already left its Neah Bay berth as a precautionary measure. Ecology then directed the tug to proceed toward the disabled tanker.

The Ginga Falcon can carry up to 20,000 tons of cargo. However, it was unclear how much cargo and fuel was onboard at the time of the incident.

The tanker was about 45 miles off of Washington’s coast when a pipe ruptured on a boiler that heats the ship’s engine fuel. After several hours without power, the crew was able to repair the pipe and restore the ship’s propulsion. The tanker then resumed its journey to San Francisco at about 8:30 p.m. The response tug proceeded back to Neah Bay.

An emergency response tug is stationed at Neah Bay year-round to respond to shipping incidents that pose a pollution threat to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Washington’s outer coast. Crowley Maritime holds the emergency response tug contract through June 2010.

“This incident involving an outbound tanker from a Canadian port and the Nov 19, 2009, grounding of the 800-foot cargo ship Hebei Lion in Canadian waters less than 10 miles from Washington’s San Juan islands once again demonstrates how connected and potentially vulnerable our shared waters are,” said Ecology Spills Program Manager Dale Jensen. “A major oil or chemical spill has the potential to seriously damage Washington’s economy, environment and quality of life. This is why we maintain a 24/7, 365-day-a-year response capability.”

In March 2009, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill passed by the state Legislature requiring Washington’s maritime industry to fund and operate a tug year-round at Neah Bay beginning July 1, 2010. Jensen said the legislation also directs Ecology to encourage Canadian shipping also to help pay for the system.

Since 1999, a state-funded emergency response tug has been called out 43 times to help vessels in distress.

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