Members of ASA Remove Fuel Oil From Submerged Alaska Cruise Ship

The teamwork and expertise of four American Salvage Association (ASA) members culminated in the safe recovery of more than 130,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil from the sunken wreck of the vintage cruise ship Princess Kathleen near Juneau, Alaska.

The 369-foot ship was on her final voyage of the season when she grounded on Point Lena in the dark and stormy early morning hours of September 7, 1952. Less than 10 hours later the ship, with all hands safely ashore, slipped from the rocks and settled to the seafloor. Since her sinking the Princess Kathleen had been the source for small but steady releases of heavy fuel oil. Continued observations seemed to indicate the releases were increasing in frequency.

In February, 2010 an ASA member was contracted by the U.S. Coast Guard to conduct an ROV survey to assess the situation. With copious quantities of oil observed by the ROV the evaluation moved a manned phase employing divers to complete the assessment of the ship and quantify the remaining fuel oil. The findings of significant quantities of oil remaining in the ship led to the establishment of a Unified Command consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation who made the decision to recover as much oil as possible from the ships 14 fuel oil tanks utilizing funds available through the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

Other ASA member contractors were engaged to provide naval architectural and computer modeling services, oil storage and transportation support and technical expertise in the pumping of heavy fuels. The cooperation between the ASA contractors and local resources working together to overcome the many challenges faced during the operation led to the successful completion of the project which removed a very real and significant threat of pollution from the unspoiled waters of Southeast Alaska.

”This is another fine example of the teamwork that exists between ASA members when providing professional response services to help protect human life, the environment, and property,”’ said ASA President Mauricio Garrido.

The American Salvage Association is a trade association promoting professionalism and improving marine casualty response in North American coastal and inland waters.

To learn more about the recovery effort, click here

Photos courtesy of the Unified Command, AK Department of Environmental Conservation & USCG