Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Safe Aleutian Navigation

By Karen Robes Meeks

Residents of Western Alaska are moving towards establishing an Aleutian Islands Waterways Safety Committee to bring together diverse waterway users to talk about and recommend safe navigational practices that work with existing regulatory requirements.

“The waterways safety committee will provide a valuable and on-going forum to discuss mutual navigational safety, mobility and environmental protection concerns where shipping activity is expected to continue to increase,” said Capt. Paul Albertson, commander of Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. “We look forward to working with both public and private stakeholders.”

A convening workgroup will develop the committee’s organizational mission and geographic scope and nominate the first board of directors who will establish the committee and various workgroups.

“The formation of the waterways safety committee will encourage dynamic cooperation among maritime stakeholders that will further enhance the good work completed during the Aleutian Islands Risk Assessment after the Selendang Ayu incident,” said Unalaska Mayor Frank Kelty.

The Selendang Ayu, a bulk cargo ship carrying soybeans, ran aground off Unalaska Island in western Alaska in 2004 after reporting engine failure. A breaking wave engulfed a rescue helicopter, causing it to crash into the ship and kill six crewmembers. The vessel then broke in half, causing a large oil spill.