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Boat skipper is arrested for suspected drunken driving

Casey Grove
Coast Guard responders and Anchorage Police Department officers board the 53-foot grounded landing craft Sealander October 27, 2011 at the Port of Anchorage small boat ramp. No pollution or injuries resulted from the grounding and Coast Guard responders plan to refloat the vessel on the next high tide. U.S. Coast Guard

Police arrested the captain of a landing craft Thursday for suspected drunken driving after the 53-foot vessel ran aground at the Anchorage small boat harbor, a police spokesman says.

Albert Peterson, 59, was piloting the boat when it hit a pile in the harbor, then continued into the harbor loading ramp, said police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker.

Another man on the Sealander injured his arm prior to the grounding when it became tangled in an anchor chain, the U.S. Coast Guard says.

Anchorage firefighters treated the injured man and took him to a hospital about 5 a.m., according to police. The Coast Guard first learned of the grounding about an hour later, sending two pollution responders and two investigators to the Port of Anchorage, the Coast Guard said.

The vessel was carrying 100 to 200 gallons of diesel fuel, but responders have not reported any spills, the Coast Guard said. Investigators found minimal damage to the vessel.

The Coast Guard called police to the area about 7:30 a.m., saying they suspected that Peterson, the captain, was drunk, Parker said.

Peterson failed standard field sobriety tests, police said. A sample of his breath, taken hours after the grounding, registered more than 1 1/2 times the legal limit of 0.08, Parker said.

Police were told the landing craft was assisting some kind of work in the area of Fire Island and, at some point, experienced engine trouble, Parker said.

The Coast Guard was monitoring the vessel Thursday afternoon and working with the owner to refloat it at the next high tide, the agency said.

Reporter Kyle Hopkins contributed to this report. Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.


By CASEY GROVE
Anchorage Daily News