JUNEAU, Alaska — Coast Guard assets and personnel assisting the Canadian coast guard returned to their units after the disabled vessel, Simushir, was safely towed by commercial tugboats to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Monday.
“The trusted partnership we have with our Canadian counterparts continues to be a vital component to protecting lives at sea and mitigating potential maritime emergencies,” said Rear Adm. Dan Abel, commander, Coast Guard 17th District. “We are pleased this case ended with a positive outcome; preparing for the worst case scenario is the first step in an effective prevention and response plan.”
Coast Guard 17th District watchstanders in Juneau received a request for assistance on Friday from the Rescue Coordination Center in Victoria, who reported the Simushir had lost propulsion while transiting from Port Angeles, Wash., to Russia, and was at risk of running aground on the Queen Charlotte Islands with 11 crewmembers and approximately 168,000 gallons of fuel.
The Coast Guard forward deployed an Air Station Sitka Jayhawk helicopter crew Friday and an Air Station Kodiak C-130 Hercules crew with a State of Alaska Emergency Towing System on Saturday to the town of Sandspit on Moresby Island to provide search and rescue assistance to Canadian coast guard crews. The 17th District also stood up their incident management team to direct Coast Guard assets and personnel support. Coast Guard Sector Juneau deployed six members, including the sector’s commander, to Ketchikan to establish the foundation for a unified command and to exercise their sub-area contingency plan with state and local partners.
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR, a 225-foot seagoing bouy tender homeported in Kodiak, was diverted Friday to the Simushir’s location with a State of Alaska Emergency Towing System onboard and arrived Saturday. The SPAR stayed on scene and kept in close communication with the Canadian coast guard vessels and the commercial tugboat, Barbara Foss.
The Barbara Foss took the Simushir into tow Saturday and safely transited to Brown Passage, where two other tugboats took over and brought the freight vessel into Prince Rupert.
“Assistance provided by the U.S. Coast Guard in the form of the USCGC SPAR and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter at the ready in Sandspit, B.C. highlights the ongoing support that the U.S. and Canada provide to each other,” said The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “And for that I would like to extend my appreciation.”