Feige appeared aboard the Alert, the Crowley tug boat, which is under contract with the Ship Escort/Response Vessel System, to present a legislative citation to the captain and crew of the vessel.
The citation was issued for the crew’s role in attempting to save the storm-battered oil drill rig Kulluk last winter.
During the June 7 visit, Feige presented the crew with a letter of commendation from the members of the 28th Alaska State Legislature. It stated in part:
“The crew safely and methodically adapted to changing conditions, used their training to identify and manage hazards and then performed each task to minimize the risks associated with those hazards.”
The proclamation then goes on to express “admiration and respect” to the crew for its “superb teamwork” and conducting themselves as professionals “in an extreme and challenging incident.”
The 10,192-horsepower Alert, which is typically used for tanker escorts to and from the Alyeska Valdez Marine Terminal, departed Valdez in response to a request for assistance and arrived on scene to find Kulluk adrift at 4.5 knots in rough weather and sea conditions.
The Alert was able to catch a training line from Kulluk and proceeded to tie off and commence tow. The crew slowed and re-oriented the Kulluk’s drift so that the original towing tugboat could secure a connection to the drilling rig. But with increasing heavy weather, the original towing tug connection parted after about 10 hours.
Once attached, Alert remained tethered by emergency tow line to the Kulluk and continuously maintained tow despite 54-foot seas and 40 to 50 knot winds pushing the Alert backward toward the Kodiak Island shore. A day later, the Unified Command directed the Alert to release the tow wire.
A U.S. Coast Guard investigation of the incident found that the Alert and all of Crowley Maritime equipment used in the evolution of the rescue attempt and towing of the Kulluk “performed flawlessly, met and exceeded standards.”
Crew members of the Alert onboard during Feige’s visit included Capt. Rod Layton, Brad Burger, Brett Spellman, James Mueller, Craig Matthews, Leroy Edenshawn and Walt Nickerson.