The Coast Guard call came in Oct. 5: The multipurpose heavylifter BBC Colorado had suffered a severe engine casualty in the Gulf of Alaska. The 400’ vessel with a pair of portside cranes was left with restricted speed and maneuverability as forecasted 30’ seas and winds in excess of 58 mph closed in on its location.
The Coast Guard immediately diverted the 378’ cutter Morgenthau from 500 miles away to aid the Colorado, simultaneously issuing a marine assistance request broadcast. As the Morgenthau made its way to the Colorado’s position, the crew worked with the 17th District Command Center in Juneau to create a rescue assistance plan for the disabled vessel.
Meanwhile, a response to the assistance request came in: Resolve Marine Group’s oceangoing tugboat Resolve Pioneer, based in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, was willing to help and headed toward the Colorado on Oct. 7.
Once within range of the Colorado, the Morgenthau crew launched their MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew to evaluate the condition of the cargo vessel, capture images to plan the tow, and make radio contact with the master. It would be 24 hours before the Resolve Pioneer arrived on scene, and the Morgenthau kept watch over the stricken ship in the interim, readying emergency gear and crews, including heavy towing lines and survival equipment in case immediate response became necessary.
When the 207’x40’x17′ Resolve Pioneer arrived on Oct. 8, it immediately set up tow with Colorado as Morgenthau looked on. Upon confirmation that the tow was holding and intact, Morgenthau‘s crew resumed their mission of fisheries enforcement in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, and the Resolve Pioneer made way for Washington with the Colorado in tow.
It was the second time Resolve Pioneer and Morgenthau have worked together — the vessels conducted a training exercise in September near Dutch Harbor for a very similar scenario, testing a towing system designed specifically for large cargo vessels disabled in the region.