The United States Coast Guard responded to a mayday call from the crew of a United States Army vessel after they reportedly struck an object and began taking on water in Chiniak Bay at 10:16 p.m. on Friday.
A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew launched at 10:44 p.m., with dewatering and rescue equipment, to assist the Army crew aboard the Monterrey, a landing craft with the 481st Transportation Company located in Vallejo, Calif. Good Samaritans aboard the fishing vessels Resolution and Peggy Joe also responded to assist. The Peggy Joe crew safely transported two crewmembers with minor injuries from the Monterrey to emergency medical services in Kodiak.
To keep the vessel from sinking, the Monterrey crew successfully beached the vessel on Puffin Island. The crew reported a breach in an 8,000-gallon fuel tank and Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak but the ship can hold up to 40,000 gallons of fuel. If a second fuel tank is damaged, the amount of fuel spilled is expected to be 15,291 gallons.
“We’re aggressively working to stop the fuel tank and to contain what has leaked,” Coast Guard Petty Officer Grant DeVuyst told the Navy Times.
The Coast Guard has contracted Alaska Chadux Corporation to assist in containing and cleaning up the fuel leak. Two booms have been put in place around the beached 174-foot landing craft, and a third boom is being placed at the mouth of the Buskin River, an environmentally sensitive area. Response teams are exploring the possibility of skimming vessels to clear surface fuel.
“Now that the crew of the Army vessel is safe, our number one priority is to limit the impact of the leaked fuel,” said Lt. Matthew Zinn, supervisor of MSD Kodiak. “Environmental stewardship is a statutory mission for the Coast Guard, and protecting the pristine Alaskan coast is very important to us.”
The Monterrey was participating in a mission to provide transportation of heavy construction equipment and supplies from Port Hueneme, California to Bethel, Alaska for the US Military. The USAV Monterrey is a 174′ (53 meter) Runnymede class large landing craft and, with a top speed of 11.5 knots, has the deck capacity to carry 350 tons of vehicles or general cargo. The vessel is one of 35 Runnymede class vessels said to be in the US Army inventory and, according to ShipBuildingHistory.com was built in Pascagoula mississippi by Halter Marine in 1992.