Disturbing New Development Regarding Alaska-bound Tug/tankerbarge Inside Passage Traffic
Ingmar Lee - 10,000 Ton Tanker
December 22, 2016
Friends, I am now reporting an extremely disturbing new development regarding the sordid issue of the Alaska-bound tug/tankerbarge traffic that has been exploiting the BC Inside Passage as a petroleum conduit between Kinder Morgan Burnaby, the Tesoro Anacortes refinery, and Alaska.
Photo: Pusher Tug Nathan E. Stewart on the bottom in Seaforth Channel
People on this list have been using AIS services like "MarineTraffic.com" to keep track of the traffic of these Texas-based tankers as they ply up and down this coast, pushing, or towing petroleum barges loaded with up to 10,000 deadweight tons on more than 30 trips annually.
Up until the disastrous wreck of the "Nathan E Stewart" near Bella Bella in October this year, people were able to track that vessel, and other vessels belonging to the Texas-based Kirby Corporation using publicly available basic AIS services.
Not any more!
Since the wreck of the Nathan E Stewart, that traffic has disappeared from basic AIS coverage. People on this list have been wondering what had become of that traffic. It appeared as though the Kirby Corporation had disappeared from this coast.
Actually, as it turns out, it has been pretty much business as usual for Kirby Corp, and Alaska-bound tankers continue to ply the BC Inside Passage.
But they are now invisible to the general public, -unless you can afford thousands of dollars annually for premium satellite AIS service, you will NOT BE ABLE to track this dangerous traffic.
Here following is my recent email discussion with Pacific Pilotage Authority CEO, Captain Kevin Obermeyer:
Re: Alaska-bound tankers in BC Inside Passage
1 day agoDetails
Something has certainly changed with the Alaska-bound BC Inside Passage tankerbarge traffic since the wreck of the Nathan E Stewart.
Other than the passage of the loaded ATB "Dale R Lindsey" and its tankerbarge which transited by here via Hecate Strait and Laredo Channel (after being delayed by storms for 4 days in Hardy Bay) more than a month ago, I have not been able to confirm any other trips north since the wreck.
There are suspicions that perhaps the business is continuing, but the tugs are exploiting a loophole in the tanker safety regulations which allow them to switch off their AIS position tracking beacons.
In my best optimist mindframe, for the safety of our beloved coast, I'd like to hope that changes are afoot, and the traffic is being readied to travel offshore in proper seaworthy ships, in the properly designated tanker lanes like all the rest of the tankers.
Would you mind helping me to understand what's going on these days with the Alaska-bound Inside Passage tug/tankerbarge business?
Thank you, - and may you have a Merry Christmas!
to me, Isabelle
12 hours ago Details
Good morning Ingmar:
Kirby is presently doing the run with two pilots onboard as far as Pine Island and then the tug and barge head north in the non-pilotage waters which lie outside the inside passage waters. The other vessel that has done a few runs is the Dale R Lindsay.
There is no loophole in the AIS system. The PPA has leased one year of satellite based AIS tracking (trial basis) and there is nothing that we are presently missing. We have the tracks of every single vessel over 20m operating on our coast. In addition there is Radar in the south and now also in the north, so even those vessels under 20m without an AIS are seen as they enter from either end of the compulsory pilotage waters.
Have a great Christmas and a fantastic 2017.
To: Kevin Obermeyer
Subject: Alaska-bound tankers in BC Inside Passage
to Kevin, Isabelle
0 minutes agoDetails
Thanks Kevin, it is amazing, and very troubling that somehow KirbyCorp has been able to make their vessels invisible to me, and to members of my "10,000 Ton Tanker" Facebook page. There has been quite a lot of discussion about what happened to the Alaska-bound tanker traffic. Up until the wreck of the Nathan E Stewart, anyone with the basic MarineTraffic AIS plan could easily track these tankers. Now clearly, the Texas corporation is taking advantage of a loophole, and is disguising its business from the vast majority of mariners who cannot pay thousands of dollars a year for satellite AIS tracking. This is extremely concerning, and it is something I will be making an issue of.