Letter to the Crowley Tugboat Corporation
by Ingmar Lee - 10,000 Ton Tanker
December 29, 2016
I am writing from near Bella Bella, BC, Canada, on the British Columbia Central Coast Inside Passage. Recently, an American ATB tugboat, the "Nathan E Stewart" (NES) and its petroleum tanker-barge, " DBL 55" ran aground and sank near here, causing a significant slick, and resulting in a more than $100 million 'clean-up' effort that continues to this day.
Since the grounding, and sinking of the NES, the Texas-based Kirby Corp. which owns the vessels, has had its "special waiver" privileges - which allowed its Alaska-bound ATB tankers to travel without Canadian Pilots aboard via the BC Inside Passage - revoked, and, as we understand it, its regular petroleum- traffic business up our coast has been replaced by the Crowley tugboat, "Washington."
Of course, we care deeply for our magnificent, pristine coastal waters and have been watching this busy American tug-tanker traffic which ply our coast with great concern. We have been tracking this business by AIS for a number of years.
So it is of great concern, and it is the reason that I write to you now, that your tug, the "Washington" appears to have shut off its AIS locator beacon, and is now travelling up and down our coast invisible to our regular ship tracking devices.
Whereas prior to the wreck of the Nathan E Stewart, ordinary mariners were able to easily track the Alaska-bound petroleum tanker business as it plied our coast, now, since the wreck, we can no longer see that traffic.
Could you please explain whether the "Washington" is, in fact travelling without broadcasting its AIS position?
If so, this would be a very serious safety and environmental concern to all of us who live alongside of, and love our Canadian Inside Passage waters.
Bella Bella, BC