Oil spill response barge breaks loose in Unalaska

The 200-foot-long oil spill response barge Ibis, anchored in Iliuliuk Bay for the past several months, came off its mooring Saturday afternoon in rough seas and drifted onto Front Beach, requiring a coordinated response effort.

The barge is operated by Resolve Magone Marine Services. As of Saturday evening, a crew was able to tow the barge off of the beach.

The Ibis is a relative newcomer to Unalaska; It got its permit in May from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to moor the barge off the beach for the next five years. The bright orange barge is the most visible element of a private effort to improve shipping safety along the Great Circle route across the Pacific. The Ibis can be used to store oil that’s been offloaded, or lightered, from a ship in trouble, before the oil spills into the sea.

According to Environmental Spill Response Supervisor Jay Brost, a dive team is doing a survey to determine the cause of the incident and will have more information later this week.

The bright orange Resolve Ibis (far left), an oil spill response barge capable of sopping up over 20,000 gallons of fuel, has a five-year mooring permit from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. CREDIT ETHAN NICHOLS
The bright orange Resolve Ibis (far left), an oil spill response barge capable of sopping up over 20,000 gallons of fuel, has a five-year mooring permit from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. PHOTO: ETHAN NICHOLS