Coast Guard, industry plan towing exercise in Dutch Harbor

Coast Guard Alaska NewsKODIAK, Alaska — Coast Guard, state and local personnel will partner with industry representatives to deploy an emergency towing system in the port of Dutch Harbor, Wednesday.

The ETS is a pre-staged package of equipment that may be deployed in the event a disabled vessel requires assistance in accessing a place of refuge. A manual that instructs responders on the operations of system as well as procedures for deployment accompanies the system. The system is designed to use vessels of opportunity to assist disabled vessels that are in Alaskan waters. It consists of a lightweight high performance towline, a messenger line used in deploying the towline, a lighted buoy, and chafing gear. These components may be configured to deploy to a disabled ship from the stern of a tugboat or airdropped to the ship’s deck via helicopter.

Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Dutch Harbor personnel will monitor the crew of the Gyrfalcon, a Harley Marine vessel, and the crew of James Dunlap, of Dunlap Towing, as they respond to a simulated vessel in distress and use the Dutch Harbor-based ETS to take the vessel in tow.

The ETS was developed as a tool to assist responders in Alaska following the grounding of the 738-foot cargo vessel Selendang Ayu in December 2004 near Unalaska. Several assets attempted to tow the ship to prevent it from grounding but were unsuccessful because the proper towing gear was not available at the time.

The Coast Guard, Department of Environmental Conservation, City of Unalaska and industry representatives successfully tested the ETS in Dutch Harbor in 2007.

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