New supertankers turn up with rudder problems in Port Angeles Harbor

PENINSULA DAILY NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

PORT ANGELES — Two of Alaska Tanker Co.’s new double-hull tankers that carry Alaska crude oil have been anchored in Port Angeles since last week after divers discovered mysterious cracks in their rudders.

The cracks on the giant rudders were discovered during routine maintenance, said Anil Mathur, president of Alaska Tanker Co., BP’s shipping company based in Beaverton, Ore.

The cause of the cracks on the year-old Alaskan Frontier and three-month-old Alaskan Explorer has not been determined, but the two empty tankers will be able to make the trip to a British Columbia shipyard for repairs, Mathur said.

He noted that there had been no indication that the rudders were damaged.

“We caught it actually very, very early, just before a problem could occur,” Mathur said. “The inspection process did exactly what it was supposed to do.”

The Alaskan Explorer has already departed Port Angeles Harbor, and the Alaskan Frontier was anchored in the harbor on Sunday.

Out of service for weeks

The Frontier is expected to be out of service for several weeks pending repairs to cracks in both its rudders, ATC said.

It is the first in a fleet of four new double-hull tankers that Alaska Tanker Co. is building to carry North Slope crude oil from Valdez, Alaska, to West Coast refineries.

It has one fracture nine feet long, Mathur said.

The Alaskan Explorer is expected to be out of service through this week. It has smaller cracks in only one of its twin rudders, Mathur said.

The Alaskan Frontier has hauled about 25 loads of crude oil out of Alaska, while the Alaskan Explorer has carried only one load, Mathur said.

Alaska Tanker Co. is partly owned by BP, the former British Petroleum.

The ships, each costing about $250 million to build, are part of efforts by all three of the major oil companies operating in Alaska to create a new generation of spill-resistant tankers.

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