Salvage planning begins for Aleutian grounding

Posted: Friday, February 27, 2009

ANCHORAGE - The owner of a commercial fishing boat that ran aground in the Aleutian Islands has made plans for its salvage, starting with the removal of petroleum from the vessel.

The crew of the Kodiak-based Icy Mist on Wednesday ran the 58-foot boat onto a rocky shore of Akutan Island after it took on water.

Four men on board - Dan Oliver, Clint Packer, Kevin Fisher and Terry Meyer - lowered a crab pot off the stern and used the line to lower themselves off the boat. They were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter.

According to the crew, about 2,700 gallons of diesel, 150 gallons of lube oil and 200 gallons of hydraulic oil are on board, along with 60,000 pounds of Pacific cod.

The petroleum will be removed before the owner attempts to move the vessel.

Winds blew at 45 mph, with gusts to 80 mph, when the vessel went aground early Wednesday morning. The wind increased to 80 mph with gusts to 120 mph by midmorning when Coast Guard helicopters attempted to lift the crew from the deck of the boat.

On Thursday, the wind had dropped 40 mph with 12-foot ocean swells, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Francis.

Francis said Magone Marine plans to fly personnel to the high bluffs above the rocky beach then use climbing equipment to lower personnel to the boat.

They will pump petroleum into barrels that can be carried away by helicopter.

The steel vessel remained upright Thursday and Francis said the vessel is "fairly protected." It's also 29 feet wide, which might help it stay intact.

However, it is so far up the beach, and the surf is so strong, it is not safe to bring in a barge or other vessel to lighter fuel, she said.

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