Tuesday, December 1, 2015

TOTE Cargo Ship Loses, Regains Power

By Mark Edward Nero

A TOTE Maritime cargo ship that lost power and went adrift about 50 miles off the coast of British Columbia in late November is now back underway.

The US-flagged M/V North Star lost power the morning of Nov. 24 while en route to BC from Anchorage, Alaska. However, after spending much of the day working on the problem, crew members managed to fix the issues by 10 pm the same day, and the vessel was able to resume its voyage under its own power without aid from the Canadian Coast Guard, which had been dispatched to the cargo ship.

The 839-foot ro/ro M/V North Star is a former fleet mate of the 790-foot container carrier El Faro, which sank Oct. 1 when its propulsion system failed as it encountered hurricane-force winds and waves east of the Bahamas. A total of 33 crewmembers were killed.

The 15-year-old M/V North Star is one of two US-flagged, Orca-class roll-on/roll-off cargo ships operated by TOTE Maritime Alaska. It serves the Jones Act Tacoma, Washington to Anchorage, Alaska route.

In late 2013, TOTE signed a contract with Finnish corporation Wärtsilä for the conversion of the M/V North Star and its sister ship, the Midnight Sun, to run on LNG. The conversions, expected to be among the largest ever undertaken in North America, have been delayed at least a year due to the El Faro incident, TOTE Maritime President John Parrott said in November.