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Work Continues to Salvage Ferry LeConte
Repairs will be made in Ketchikan


May 11, 2004

Alaska - The LeConte was en route between Angoon and Sitka, with continuing service to Kake and Petersburg, when she ran aground on Cozian Reef in Peril Strait. The USCG reported that the ship's crew responded quickly and all passengers were evacuated from the LeConte via lifeboats. The NOAA ship JOHN COBB was the first vessel on scene and assisted in coordinating the transfer of the passengers from the lifeboats to several Good Samaritan vessels, including two catamarans owned by Allen Marine and two smaller vessels. By 2:00 pm Monday, all passengers were evacuated from the LeConte and safely transported to Sitka and Angoon. Two injured passengers were flown to Sitka Community Hospital.

Governor Frank Murkowski said, "This was an unfortunate accident, but I am gratified by the swift and professional response from the crew on board, from the Coast Guard, and from the multitude of Good Samaritans who have responded to the situation. DOT is in the process of stabilizing the ferry so it can be removed from the reef and taken to the shipyard in Ketchikan where permanent repairs can be made."

photo M/V LeConte

A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka rescue helicopter crew hovers above the grounded Alaska Marine Highway System ferry LeConte on Monday. The 235-foot ferry, with 86 passengers and 24 crewmembers, reportedly struck rocks, grounded and flooded May 10th near Cozian Reef in Peril Strait about 30 miles north of Sitka.
(Official U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy Air Station Sitka)

"All of the passengers have been safely removed from the LeConte and are reportedly on their way to Sitka," Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski said, "so we are thankful there was no loss of life or life-threatening injuries.

The Coast Guard Marine Safety Office (MSO) continues to work with the State of Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) to salvage the Ferry LeCONTE that ran aground at approximately 9:55 a.m. Monday. The Coast Guard and the State of Alaska have established a Unified Command to manage a coordinated response to the incident. The Unified Command's primary concerns are the safety of the passengers and crew and protection of the marine environment.

Coast Guard, AMHS, and commercial salvage experts carried out an initial assessment of the LeConte's stability. This assessment revealed the LeConte was taking on water in five watertight compartments. After stabilizing the vessel, the LeConte's crew was evacuated at approximately 5:15 p.m. due to safety concerns. Salvage personnel on scene will continue to monitor the condition of the LeCONTE overnight. The LeConte will remain on Cozian reef until temporary repairs are completed and the vessel can be safely extracted. Coast Guard Cutters LIBERTY, MAPLE and ANACAPA remain at the scene. According to information provided by the USCG, there is no evidence that any oil has spilled from the LeCONTE.

"Our first priority was the safety of the passengers and the crew," said Commander John Sifling, the Coast Guard Incident Commander. "Now that everyone is safe, we will focus on salvaging the LeCONTE and preventing any oil from spilling. This effort will probably take several days."

The Coast Guard has established a one-half mile radius safety zone around the LeCONTE. Vessels are not permitted in the safety zone without the permission of the Coast Guard.

The Alaska Marine Highway (AMHS) is ensuring that passengers are being cared for upon reaching Sitka and Angoon and has set up a contact number for relatives and friends concerned about loved ones who were passengers or crew on board the LeConte. For passenger and vehicle information, contact Mr. Rodney Stitt with the AMHS at (907) 465-2081. AMHS will ensure that passenger luggage and vehicles are returned as quickly as possible.



Source of News:

United States Coast Guard
Web Site

Office of the Governor
Web Site


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