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Crew repairs engines on freighter in N. Pacific

Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2009

ANCHORAGE - The crew of a crippled freighter adrift in the stormy North Pacific for several days repaired its engines Monday morning and the vessel continued on its voyage to Portland, Ore.

The Coast Guard said the crew of the India-flagged APJ Suryavir informed them soon after completing the repairs to the main engine's diesel fuel pump. A Coast Guard cutter and a private ship that were headed to the Suryavir about 570 miles south of Alaska's Adak Island were called off the mission.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Walter Shinn said the Coast Guard will be in radio contact with the 740-foot bulk cargo ship until it moors in Portland.

No injuries were reported among the crew of 28, and the vessel never took on water. Waves were reported up to 30 feet and winds up to 60 mph while the ship was adrift, but the weather had calmed slightly by Monday morning, Shinn said.

A commercial ship had been en route to the crippled freighter and expected to reach it by late morning. The crew of the 1,110-foot Maersk Altair was planning to help with repairs and rescue those onboard the Suryavir if necessary.

A Coast Guard C-130 that overflew the stranded ship late Sunday will fly over the vessel again later to check on the crew.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeff Roberto said that aside from the crew's ordeal in the tossing seas, everyone on board was fine.

The Suryavir is not carrying any cargo, which makes it more unstable in heavy seas. But the Coast Guard said the crew put sea water in the vessel's tanks to add some weight.

The Suryavir ran into engine problems Thursday en route from China to the Columbia River in Oregon. The crew radioed for help late Sunday morning when the weather turned bad. The Coast Guard said it's not unusual for ship crews to fix their own engines in calmer weather.

The weather makes it difficult to calculate the expected arrival of the ship in Portland, said Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios. In normal weather, the trip can take up to five days.



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