On Friday night, the container ship Laura Maersk lost power off Akutan in the Aleutian Islands and began to drift towards shore. She contacted the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage command center and requested assistance. By 00:30 hours Saturday she was less than ten nm off the coast, and according to Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation, she was in danger of going aground by daybreak.
Three tugs were dispatched, and they successfully took the container ship in tow and brought her to Dutch Harbor. No pollution or injuries were reported, and initial reports of an engine room fire turned out to be unfounded. The Coast Guard did not immediately disclose the nature of her difficulties.
“The thing that made this one very high profile, high risk was how close it was to land,” on-scene DEC coordinator Geoff Merrell told local NBC affiliate KTUU. “We had to get tugs and assets very quickly because we did not have a lot of time to stop the drift of the ship before it was in danger of running aground.”
The Laura Maersk sails on Maersk Line’s east-west route to and from Vancouver, B.C. She last made the news in 2016, when authorities in Manzanillo, Mexico found 228 kilos of cocaine hidden in her cargo.
Photo: US Coast Guard