An oil spill response vessel called the Sea Strike is now homeported in Kodiak, gearing up to answer the need for oil spill cleanup in the Central Gulf of Alaska and Western Alaska. One of the groups behind the project says it’ll be an improvement over existing methods of containing spills.
The Anchorage-based nonprofit – called the Alaska Maritime Prevention Response Network – offers oil spill response support to vessels enrolled in its program and reports it has retained the Sea Strike on a one-year contract to start with.
Managing director Jim Butler says the Network works with an oil-spill removal organization called Alaska Chadux, which runs a vessel of opportunity program. The program employs the services of fishermen and other locals in oil spill responses. Butler says the Sea Strike is more specialized.
“What the Sea Strike represents is the next sort of evolution, and that is that we’ve got a vessel now that’s purpose built that’s dedicated for oil spill response, so when a vessel has a problem and calls for response resources, the Sea Strike will be available 24/7 to respond to the Kodiak area, Prince William Sound, and Alaska Peninsula.”
Butler says the 146-ft Sea Strike is built to collect oil, and has a number of other features which help in oil spill response. For instance, it’ll have space for crew and provide vessels to help workers deploy containment booms, or barriers, to collect spilled oil.
Butler says the Network sees a higher number of small vessel casualties during traffic in the spring and into the fall, and the Sea Strike will respond as needed.
“If it’s a Network vessel, the Network notifies the oil spill response element and if the Sea Strike is a logical response tool, it will be activated and put to work, so there’ll be a decision made by the owners of the vessel as well as the appropriate regulatory agencies to decide if that is the best tool for the job and, if it is, it’ll promptly respond to the site of the causality.”
He says the Network decided Kodiak was a good location to dock the vessel for its purposes.
“The Network’s program covers Prince William Sound as well as Western Alaska and, of course, as most people know, Western Alaska is basically from the Kenai Peninsula out to the end of the Aleutians up to the Arctic, so because this is a new program, we thought we’d base it in Kodiak, because it then would have striking distance down to Dutch Harbor or up into Prince William Sound or Cook Inlet in the event it was needed.”
Butler says the Sea Strike is currently sailing to Valdez, where it’ll load specialized oil spill response equipment and then head back to Kodiak.