Tug that went aground in Unalaska was nearly new By JIM PAULIN

Posted: Friday, September 15, 2000

UNALASKA (AP) -- The Millennium Star was practically brand new when it grounded at the entrance to Dutch Harbor early Monday morning. The tug had left its shipyard less than a month earlier.

The 99-foot tug was tied up at Magone Marine Service two days later, fresh paint gleaming in the sunshine while marine surveyors viewed holes in the hull including a six-foot-long zigzag pattern and a two-by-three-foot gash, according to salvage company president Dan Magone.

Magone estimates it'll take another week of work putting on temporary patches and emptying fuel tanks. The vessel will then be towed to Seattle for permanent repairs. On Wednesday, he was preparing to try to recover the tug's two propellers, submerged in ten feet of water at the wreck site.

The vessel is a smaller version of the tractor tugs that assist oil tankers in Prince William Sound, Magone said.

''It's as maneuverable as you can get. It can go as fast backwards as forwards, sideways, anything,'' Magone said.

The tug was moving a barge of frozen seafood from Trident Seafoods' Akutan plant when it grounded, according to Vince Godfrey of Harley Marine Service of Seattle, parent company of the vessel's owner, Olympic Tug and Barge.

Olympic had taken possession of the $5.5 million Millennium Star on Aug. 18 from the Marco Shipyard in Seattle. It had arrived in Alaska for temporary duty just a week before the accident. It was then scheduled to work in Los Angeles, Godfrey said.

The grounding remains under investigation by the Coast Guard, according to Lt. Bob Beck of the Coast Guard's Unalaska office. He estimated the ship spilled 500 gallons of diesel when it grounded. IT was carrying about 60,000 gallons of fuel. A light fuel sheen was observed along the shore Monday morning, but was gone that afternoon, and no cleanup was required, he said. Four other tug boats pulled the Millennium Star free about an hour after the 4:30 a.m. grounding at the tip of Amaknak Island in Unalaska Bay. Nobody was injured.

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