Captain, second mate of grounded tug relieved of duties

Posted: Friday, January 01, 2010

ANCHORAGE - A tugboat captain and second mate have been relieved of duty after their vessel ran aground on the same reef as the Exxon Valdez 20 years ago.

The tug Pathfinder was scouting for ice along Alaska's oil shipping lanes Dec. 23 when it ran aground on Bligh Reef. It spilled an estimated 100 gallons of diesel fuel.

The tug's operator, Crowley Marine, said the two crew members were relieved of their duties two days later and are not being paid. Their names have not been released.

Crowley told Anchorage television station KTUU that it will decide if the two should be put back on the job when it has a better understanding of what happened.

The Exxon Valdez disaster remains the nation's worst oil spill. Nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil flowed into Prince William Sound when the 987-foot tanker struck Bligh Reef in 1989.

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