Double-hulled tanker barge waits in Rez Bay

The Zidell Marine 277 double-hulled tanker barge parked in the bay the last few days is less than a year old but already has an interesting story. It was launched on June 16, 2017, the 277th and last barge built by Zidell Marine in Portland, Oregon. The massive barge is one of the largest at 421 feet long, 76 feet wide, 27 feet deep, weighing 3400 tons with a capacity of 80,000 barrels.

In November 2017, the Skagway-bound articulated tug Jake Shearer and the Zidell 277 were hauling millions of gallons of fuel north through the Inside Passage. They were hit by a series of extreme waves that resulted in the separation of the tug from the barge. Two crew members managed to jump from the tug to the loose barge to drop anchor before it ran aground. Fortunately, the anchor lines held and when the seas subsided, a rescue tug was able to move the barge to safe harbor.

The incident ignited memories of the 2016 sinking of the tugboat Nathan E. Steward which ran aground in about the same area, spilling more than 26,000 gallons of fuel, triggering a 33-day recovery effort.

Both incidents occurred in Canadian waters off the coast of British Columbia. First Nation and environmental groups are calling for better protection and oil-spill response of the Inside Passage from oil spills and shipping accidents. Since the Exxon Valdez disaster, the US requires vessels carrying petroleum cargo to have an approved contingency plan for spills and fires. Canada doesn’t. The Trudeau government pledged more planning and resources for marine environmental response.

The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill also lead to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 requiring new tank-barges to have double hulls.

The launch of the Zidell Marine 277 marked the end of the company’s 56 years in the barge-building business. The Zidell family shut down the shipyard and after a joint cleanup effort with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, they have begun the process of rebuilding the urban waterfront by planting more than 15,000 native plants. They plan to develop the former 33-acre riverfront Zidell Marine shipyard into a mixed-use neighborhood.

Carol Griswold









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