Maritime Evaluation of Potential Places of Refuge for Deep Draft Vessels in the Northwest Arctic, North Slope, and Aleutian Islands Regions of Alaska

FY 2023 | 2 – Respond | 23-10-06

Maritime Evaluation of Potential Places of Refuge for Deep Draft Vessels in the Northwest Arctic, North Slope, and Aleutian Islands Regions of Alaska

Jonathan Pierce, Safeguard Marine
Contract Term: 04/01/23 - 03/31/24
Award: $

Safeguard Marine proposes to conduct empirical research to demonstrate the suitability of Potential Places of Refuge (PPOR) in the Northwest Arctic (Bering Sea), North Slope (Chukchi & Beaufort Seas), and Aleutian Islands regions of Alaska for deep draft oil tank vessels in distress. The State of Alaska defines a PPOR as a pre-identified site where a vessel needing assistance can be moved to, and where actions can then be taken to stabilize the vessel, protect human life, reduce a hazard to navigation, and/or protect sensitive natural resources and other uses of the area. PPOR are also used to prevent and/or mitigate an oil spill from a deep draft oil tank vessel that is in distress. The Alaska Regional Response Team has identified 55 PPOR for deep draft vessels in the “Arctic and Western Alaska Area Contingency Plan” (AWA-ACP) (Version 2020.2, December 2022). The identification of PPOR in the Northwest Arctic and the North Slope regions were completed by a Work Group of federal, state, and local governments, local subject matter experts, and various stakeholders in 2011, and in the Aleutian Islands region in 2004. These Work Groups did not utilize ship simulations to empirically identify, evaluate, and assess the risks posed by these locations to deep draft vessels, rather only roundtable discussions of experts were utilized.  

This proposed research seeks to complement and update the work completed by the Work Groups including document review as well as local subject matter expert and stakeholder interviews for identifying PPOR in these regions. Additionally, this research proposes to use the latest technology of ship simulations performed by ship pilots to empirically identify, evaluate, and assess the risks associated with these PPOR. Such research was previously conducted by Safeguard Marine for Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council in 2017 and 2019 on PPOR for deep draft oil tank vessels in Prince William Sound, Alaska (PWS). In PWS, Safeguard Marine identified eight of the 21 designated PPOR for deep draft vessels were high risk for an oil tank vessel in distress to utilize. This was determined based on ship simulations performed by ship pilots. Furthermore, Safeguard Marine identified alternative locations in close proximity to the PPOR that were safer for deep draft vessels. Using similar methods of document review, interviews, and empirical ship simulations conducted by ship pilots, Safeguard Marine proposes to identify, evaluate, and assess the risks associated with PPOR in Arctic and Western Alaska for deep draft vessels as well as potentially identify alternative PPOR in close proximity.