Salvage operation begins for sunken vessel at Granite Point oil platform

NIKISKI, Alaska – Salvage operations are underway in Cook Inlet near the Granite Point oil platform 16 miles from Nikiski for the offshore supply vessel Monarch which sunk Thursday.

The 157-foot motor vessel Champion and the 225-foot Coast Guard Cutter Hickory, both equipped with side scan sonar, plan to conduct sonar scans in the area adjacent to the platform to determine the orientation and exact location of the Monarch.

The Unified Command will begin developing a plan for raising the vessel. Specific options for salvage will be explored once more about the current condition of the vessel is known.

Two overflights of the area are planned for 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. today to monitor the area and look for any sheen resulting from the diesel onboard.

Weather conditions in the area are winds in excess of 46 mph from the northeast becoming southeast, seas in ice-free waters are predicted at 10 feet, with rain showers.

Originally 35,000 – 38,000 gallons of diesel was reported to onboard with an additional 2,000 gallons of miscellaneous lube oils. It is unknown how much product remains onboard. According to NOAA 38,000 gallons of diesel will dissipate and evaporate with in 12 hours, or one tidal cycle.

The vessel was transporting six stainless steel totes, three plastic drums and eight steel drums containing various lube oils and chemicals. The chemicals are hazardous and mildly toxic. Anyone locating a tote or drum is asked not to touch it but to report it to the Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment in Kenai (907) 283-3606 or CISPRI (907) 776-5129.

The cause of the sinking remains under investigation by the Coast Guard, as interviews with the crew continue.

Personnel on the platform reported Thursday afternoon that at low tide there appeared to be no significant damage to the platform legs as a result of contact with the Monarch’s hull. Additional surveys will be conducted at the discretion of the platform personnel. The platform is operated by Union Oil Company of California, a Chevron company.

The Coast Guard received a report from the Monarch at 5:51 a.m. Thursday that they were taking on water. The crew evacuated to the platform. The tug Vigilant was dispatched to the scene from Nikiski but was unable to hook up a tow to the vessel. Shortly after noon Thursday the Unified Command received a report from the personnel on the platform that the vessel had sunk completely.

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