EDITOR'S NOTE: The bulk of this information was provided by Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. When available, Coast Guard records and Daily News reports also were checked. The only incidents covered are those involving laden tankers.
JULY 31, 1989: A gyrocompass, a navigation device, failed aboard the Mobil Arctic as it was leaving the tanker terminal. The pilot asked for help from his escort response vessel, or ERV, because it was extremely foggy. Without the gyrocompass, he had lost his bearings. The escort vessel's officers declined to give the ship a push because they couldn't find the marking on the tanker that shows where it can withstand pushing without damage. Officials at Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which runs the tanker terminal, said there was some confusion because the escort system was so new. They concluded that a tugboat, the second of two vessels escorting the tanker, should have been asked to push instead; tugs have rounder bows and are less likely to damage tankers. The Mobil Arctic returned safely to the dock.
SEPT. 20, 1989: The Atigun Pass, a ship chartered to British Petroleum, lost engine power as it passed between Bligh Reef and Glacier Island. The escort vessel hooked up to the ship and held it inside the shipping lanes until the tanker regained power less than an hour later. This is considered one of the two most serious incidents to occur since the spill because the channel between the reef and the island is just several miles wide. If a ship drifted without power in the area, it could easily hit one of the two. The state credited the escort vessel with preventing a possible grounding; Alyeska says the ship would never have hit land in an hour.
JUNE 20, 1990: The Southern Lion, chartered by Amerada Hess, lost power at about the same spot as the Atigun Pass. It did not drift out of the shipping lanes before regaining power and sailing to Knowles Head for repair.
AUG. 4, 1990: The Kenai lost power near Rocky Point. According to Alyeska, the ship remained on course and did not require help from its escort vessels. The ship was chartered by BP.
NOV. 14, 1990: The gyrocompass on the Arco Prudhoe Bay failed while the ship was still in Port Valdez. It headed to a container dock for repair. The escort accompanied it to the dock, but did not provide assistance.
APRIL 1, 1991: The Arco Sag River discovered a possible mechanical problem with its propulsion system while passing through Valdez Arm and sailed on its own power to an anchorage at Knowles Head.
MARCH 4, 1992: The Exxon North Slope had already sailed out of Prince William Sound when its propulsion system began vibrating. The captain radioed for help and turned back. When the ship reached the Sound, it was escorted to anchorage at Knowles Head. Divers checked the propeller and found no problems, and, when the ship was restarted, the vibrations had stopped. The ship's officers concluded that a fishing net or another material had become temporarily tangled around the propeller. The ship's ERV held the tanker in place while it was being examined by divers.
SEPT. 9, 1992: The Brooks Range, a BP-chartered tanker, lost power in Valdez Arm. It remained on course and regained power before it needed aid from its escort vessels.
OCT. 20, 1992: The Kenai, the same vessel that lost power in 1990, had problems with its steering system and began heading toward dangerous Middle Rock. The Coast Guard estimates that the ship was about 100 yards from the rock when a tug helped turn the tanker back on course. Valdez residents say they believe this was the closest call for a loaded tanker in the Sound.
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