Federal research ship damaged en route to Alaska

Posted: Friday, April 28, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A U.S. government research ship on its way to Alaska to study fish populations ran aground off Canada during the weekend and was scheduled to return to Seattle for repairs.

No one was injured and no fuel leaked into the water in Sunday's incident, which occurred in the Inside Passage, about 120 miles south of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, the Canadian Coast Guard said.

The 274-foot ship, the Ronald H. Brown, is the largest research ship in the fleet operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Roger Parsons, the ship's captain, said the vessel was heading to Kodiak to study pollock in Shelikoff Strait when it touched bottom in a stretch known as the Hiekish Narrows.

The impact damaged the bilge keel, a plate that hangs off the hull to dampen the ship's roll at sea, Parsons said.

No water came aboard and the ship was able to move under its own power to Ketchikan, he said.

NOAA officials in Norfolk, Va., were investigating the incident. Parsons said he couldn't comment about its cause.

Monica Schaumann, a Canadian Coast Guard communications supervisor in Vancouver, said the ship reported a glancing blow on Hewitt Island. A report cites a navigational error as the cause, she told the Anchorage Daily News.

A Canadian Coast Guard vessel escorted the Ronald H. Brown to Prince Rupert, where divers examined the hull. They found that fuel was leaking from the port tank into an empty ballast tank with none escaping the ship, which later traveled on to Ketchikan, Schaumann said.

Rain and snow were falling at the time of the accident, she said.

The Ronald H. Brown is loaded with advanced instruments and sensors and has traveled worldwide studying oceans and climate, a NOAA Web site said. It can carry 59 officers, crew members and scientists.

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