Response boat protects Cook Inlet from oil spills

Posted: Tuesday, November 14, 2000

The industry cooperative that provides oil spill response for Cook Inlet has a new boat.

The 205-foot Seabulk Montana, owned by Seabulk Offshore of Lafayette, La., arrived late last month to replace a similar vessel, the 207-foot Heritage, provided by Tidewater Marine of New Orleans. The new contract, which lasts for five years, will save Cook Inlet Spill Prevention and Response Inc. money but provide equivalent service, said Doug Lentsch, CISPRI general manager.

"They are both anchor-handling and towing vessels, so they're very similar," he said.

The Seabulk Montana has a towing winch and is capable of towing any stricken vessel in Cook Inlet, he said. Its hull is reinforced against ice. It carries a crew of seven and complete spill-containment gear, including containment booms and skimming equipment. It has twin propellers backed by a total of 5,600 horsepower, plus a 325-horsepower bow thruster. Lentsch said the Seabulk Montana can store about 2,000 barrels of recovered oil.

"We don't put much on board. We just move it through a platform on deck to a storage barge," he said.

CISPRI members include Unocal, Tesoro Maritime Co., Cross Timbers Oil Co., Williams Alaska Petroleum, Phillips Petroleum Co., Forcenergy Inc., Chevron USA Inc., Marathon Oil Co., Cook Inlet Pipeline Co., Keystone Shipping Co., Ocean Ships Inc. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

In addition to the Seabulk Montana, CISPRI, based in Nikiski, has two large barges, one with a capacity of 59,500 barrels and another with a capacity of 12,400 barrels, to store recovered oil. It has contracts with more than 60 fishing boats to assist with spill response. It has access to dedicated facilities to clean and rehabilitate oiled birds and sea otters.

"We have several skimming systems, 85,000 feet of containment boom, several smaller barges, storage bladders that can be towed, tanks and the ability for alternative cleanup methods, such as in-place burning and dispersants," Lentsch said. We're a Class E oil spill removal organization according to the U.S. Coast Guard, which is the highest level of designation."

There is an open house scheduled at the OSK Dock in Nikiski at 2 p.m. today.

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