Disabled ship taken under tow

Tug Chahunta will take over from CG cutter this morning

Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2005

ANCHORAGE - A Coast Guard cutter took under tow Tuesday a commercial fish processing ship with 204 people aboard that had been adrift in the Gulf of Alaska.

The 325-foot Independence's steering system failed Monday in 20-foot seas with blowing snow and winds as high as 60 mph. The weather calmed overnight.

"The seas have died down substantially," said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Roger Wetherell.

The cutters Storis and Morgenthau arrived on the scene Tuesday, at which point a Kodiak-based C-130 crew left, the Coast Guard said.

The Storis took the Seattle-based Independence under tow. They are headed toward Cape Spencer and Juneau. The tug Chahunta is expected take over the tow when they rendezvous. The tug is expected to reach the Independence today between 8 a.m. and noon, according to Petty Officer Gail Sinner.

No injuries were reported.

The Independence - owned by Trident Seafoods Corp. in Seattle - ran into trouble about 7 a.m. Monday, when the port rudder failed as the ship was heading back to Seattle following the end of its cod season, said Trident attorney Joe Plesha. Crew members disconnected a hydraulic piston driving the damaged rudder.

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