Marine Salvage Support in the Arctic

(from AMSA Report 2009)


In the Arctic Ocean, with the exception of Norway, Iceland and ports along the Northern Sea Route, there are few places of refuge or government/commercial salvage response to support commercial shipping. Generally, there are limited ship repair and/or salvage infrastructure and pollution countermeasures capabilities based around the Arctic basin. This lack of an Arctic salvage capability is a concern to the marine insurance industry.

There is inadequate port, salvage, towing and other necessary marine infrastructure support for the growing amount of commercial traffic transiting the Great Circle Route through the Aleutian Islands. This was highlighted by the 2004 M/V Selendang Ayu engine failure and subsequent grounding with a spill of more than 1 million liters of fuel oil along the northern side of Unalaska Island. This incident could have been prevented if large tugs and adequate salvage support were nearby; instead, the nearest tugs capable of handling this type of emergency were in Seattle, Washington. After the 738 ft M/V Selendang Ayu’s engine broke down in gale-force Bering Sea winter weather, several efforts to tow it by small tugs based out of Dutch Harbor failed.


    Arctic Council, 2009, Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA), Arctic Council.©

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