Massive load of logs spilled off Alaska

A 425-foot log transport vessel carrying 12,000 tons of logs dumped 90% of its cargo into the Gulf of Alaska during a period of rough weather in early December. Haida Monarch was 75 miles south of Cape St. Elias Island, en route to Powell River, B.C., from Homer, Alaska, when an estimated 360 bundles of logs tumbled into the sea on December 9. Each bundle of 30- to 40-foot white spruce logs weighed 30 tons.

There was little the crew could do to recover the lost cargo, according to reports from the Coast Guard in Juneau. "They were not equipped with recovery equipment of any kind," said Darrell Wilson, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, which launched a C-130 to monitor drift of the spill. The air crew deployed a data marker buoy to keep track of drift over time. "The last word we got was that the logs are drifting toward shore and are now 55 miles southeast of Cape St. Elias. But current specialists at NOAA we’ve consulted say there is no predictable path these logs will take," said Wilson two days after the accident. The Coast Guard issued a warning about the log spill, but there were no plans to recover any cargo, according to Wilson.

By Ocean Navigator