Seven crew rescued after supply vessel sinks
A 166-foot platform supply vessel, the M/V Monarch, sank in Cook Inlet after being pinned against the Granite Point oil production platform by heavy ice. Seven crewmembers on the vessel were rescued and evacuated by helicopter from the platform along with eight platform personnel.
Seven other workers remained on the platform, but production operations were suspended, according to Roxanne Sinz, spokeswoman for platform operator Chevron Corp.
Accidents among oil support vessels in Cook Inlet are rare. Marilyn Crockett, executive director of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, said she cannot remember a sinking of a vessel in the 40 years she has worked in the industry.
The sunken vessel has been located on the bottom, at about an 85-foot depth. An immediate concern is fuel aboard the ship, about 34,000 gallons of diesel, as well as 690 gallons of lubricating oil and an undetermined number of barrels of chemicals that were scheduled to be delivered to the platform.
The accident occurred at 5:30 a.m. Jan. 15 as the Monarch approached the platform to make a delivery. Ice pinned the vessel against the platform and it began to sink, according to information provided to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
An emergency response tug based in Cook Inlet, the M/V Vigilant, was called to the scene, but by the time the vessel reached the platform, the Monarch was upside down and sinking. Later that day, at 12:08 p.m. the vessel sank.
Chevron also emptied oil transit pipelines serving the platform out of concern that the submerged vessel might get pushed by tidal currents and damage the pipelines, state oil and gas director Kevin Banks said.
In a statement, ADEC said the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hickory and tug M/V Champion were on location near the Granite Point platform to assess the integrity of the platform legs and associated pipelines, and used side-scan sonar to locate the vessel. Ice, winds and currents in the inlet were of concern for operations, ADEC said in its statement.
The vessel owners have contracted with Global Diving and Salvage Inc., and is currently preparing a salvage plan and making efforts to locate a suitable dive and salvage platform, ADEC said in its statement.
The primary objective of the salvage operation, now that the vessel has been located, is securing it in place to prevent damage to production platforms and sub-sea pipelines. Spill response contractor Chadux currently has spill response specialists mobilized at the command center in Nikiski.