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New Vessel Will Bolster Oil Spill Response In Western Alaska

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Courtesy Paradigm Marine
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Western Alaska will have better oil spill response capabilities with a new vessel. The OSRV Ocean Liberty was expected to arrive in Unalaska by the end of March, but the ship is awaiting modifications and clean up of an oil spill in Shuyak Straight near Kodiak has delayed the process.

Unalaska Mayor Frank Kelty is excited for the added layer of safety the vessel will bring to the region. In a given year at America’s top fishing port, he says local fuel docks can pump up to 60 million gallons of fuel. Plus, large vessels pass through the region on major shipping routes.

“We all know of the catastrophes we’ve had with the Selendang Ayu, the Kuroshima, and vessels transitioning this area,” Kelty said. “If something happens closeby, this vessel would be able to respond and help assist with any cleanup work.”

The Ocean Liberty was built specifically to respond to spills. It will be the only boat like this in Western Alaska. It is contracted by the Alaska Chadux Corporation.

A similar vessel, the OSRV Sea Strike is based in Kodiak and covers the Alaska Peninsula. The Ocean Liberty should arrive in Unalaska by mid-April.

Zoë Sobel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2019. She returned to KUCB after a year living in Nepal and Malaysia as a Luce Scholar. She then returned to KUCB as a ProPublica reporter August of 2020 through August of 2021.
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