Valdez Repairs Near Completion, Summer Return to Service Expected With AM-Valdez-Spill Revisited Bjt
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ The tanker Exxon Valdez, its hull ripped apart a year ago on Alaska’s Bligh Reef, is a ship without a name as it undergoes repairs.
Fresh gray paint covers the name synonymous with environmental catastrophe.
The $30 million repair job, which began last August, is about 70 percent complete, and the tanker should be released to Exxon in July, said Fred Hallett, vice president and chief financial officer of National Steel & Shipbuilding Co.
It could be hauling crude oil again this summer, but under what name and where have not yet been determined, said Exxon Shipping Co. spokeswoman Carrie Chassin.
Exxon Shipping president Frank Iarossi, sensitive to the vessel’s virtually indelible association with the environmental disaster, has said the ship may be given a ″fresh start″ under a new name away from Alaska, perhaps the Gulf of Mexico.
Nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil poured into Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, after rocks ripped into the hull of the 987-foot tanker.
A couple of boulders that lodged in the Valdez were removed at the shipyard and, after being examined by parties in the spill litigation, were released to Exxon, which had them ground up at a construction site, Chassin said.
The single-skinned tanker is being restored to its original specifications, despite some studies showing that equipping ships with double bottoms or hulls would prevent or reduce spillage in the event of an accident.
Exxon Shipping officials determined that ″retrofitting the entire vessel from an engineering standppoint was not feasible,″ Chassin said.
″Basically the whole bottom has been rebuilt,″ said Peter Zschiesche, business representative for the machinists union at the shipping company. ″The middle of the bottom, that’s been ripped out, back to front. Then they went in and started putting those pieces back″ in 100-ton steel segments.
Still to be completed is patching on the mangled starboard side, which bore the brunt of the grounding.
When the repairs are completed, the bottom will be coated with 3,000 tons of inch-thick steel.
The Valdez arrived last July at the shipyard, where it was built in 1986, after being towed 2,500 miles from Alaska.
″Literally all of her starboard side was gone,″ Hallett said. ″You could stand underneath the ship and look 70 feet up at the main deck. I don’t think anybody has seen that kind of damage in peacetime and have a ship survive.″