Rough seas hit ship rescue in Bering Sea

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A cargo ship that broke down in Alaska's Aleutian Islands while carrying canola seeds and nearly a half-million gallons of fuel oil continued its slow journey to a safe harbor Sunday as a tug boat pulled it through rough seas and up to 25-foot waves.

The 738-foot Golden Seas with 20 crew members aboard was expected to reach Dutch Harbor, 275 miles away, sometime Tuesday.

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Dana Warr said the tug boat captain decided to take a longer route south of the island chain where seas were somewhat less rough. The course change was expected to add about 20 to 30 hours to the trip.

The 18,000-horsepower Tor Viking II began its tow of the cargo ship late Saturday, a few hours after they rendezvoused in the Bering Sea, about 45 miles north of Atka Island.

Warr said Sunday evening the vessels were dealing with waves between 20 and 25 feet, despite predictions that the rough seas would abate.

"We thought it would diminish more than it has," Warr said.

The towing operation involved attaching a 2,400-foot line from the towing vessel to the ship. The long line was helping absorb the shock of the waves hitting the vessel as it was being towed, he said.

Once the ship reaches Dutch Harbor, two tugs will help maneuver it into Captain's Bay, where it will anchor and undergo repairs.

The ship developed engine trouble in strong winds and rough seas Friday that caused it to drift toward Atka Island, about 1,300 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Responders said the vessel, which is managed by Allseas Marine, based in Athens, Greece, lost its turbo charger. That left it without enough power to overcome 29-foot seas and winds blowing at 45 mph.

Petty Officer David Mosley said the Liberia-flagged ship is carrying more than 457,500 gallons of fuel oil, nearly 12,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 10,000 gallons of lube oil.

The ship is en route from Vancouver, Canada, to the United Arab Emirates, the Coast Guard said.

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