Tug Boats Help Refloat Grounded Fuel Tanker

Three tug boats helped pull a grounded fuel tanker off a beach on the Kenai Peninsula on Friday, one day after an ice floe pulled the tanker from its mooring and sent it adrift.

The refloating of the 575-foot Seabulk Pride took about 40 minutes, said Kip Knudson, a spokesman for Tesoro Alaska, which leases the ship. The refloating was timed to coincide with high tide in the Cook Inlet.

"We are pleased to say the ship is once again a ship rather than a beach ornament," Knudson said, shortly after the ship was freed.

Knudson said the tugs pulled the tanker into deeper water where it was being inspected thoroughly, but there was no indication the ship had leaked any fuel while hard aground on the beach.

The 575-foot tanker, loaded with 4.9 million gallons of gasoline and other petroleum products, ran aground Thursday on the Kenai Peninsula but spilled less than 100 gallons of cargo, officials said. It made a soft landing, running aground on silt rather than rocks.

The accident happened as the double-hulled Seabulk was being pumped with cargo in the Cook Inlet port of Nikiski, 80 miles from Anchorage.

No injuries were reported among the 34 crew members. The ship's engines had been working but the crew could not control the untied tanker in the onrushing tide, said Jim Butler, spokesman for ship owner Seabulk International of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a subsidiary of SEACOR Holdings.