Story last updated at 3:07 p.m. Thursday, December 12, 2002

Barge nearly sinks in Gulf of Alaska
Twenty-foot seas and 70-knot winds battered a shipping barge off Cape St. Elias in the Gulf of Alaska late last month. The barge lost some cargo and nearly capsized in the storm.

The W.J. Carbon left port in Tacoma, Wash., loaded with 4,200 tons of hardware and lumber supplies for Spenard Builders Supply in Anchorage.

The load was stacked six tiers high and the tug was being towed by a 40-year old ITB tug when it ran into heavy seas.

Seattle Island Tug and Barge tug operator Nick Hayes said the high, heavy load and bad weather caused damage to the lashings, which broke, sending some of the cargo loose into the ocean.

"Everything worked against us," he said. "When one breaks loose, everything starts to move."

Hayes said there are safety mechanisms aboard the tug that would have allowed the tug crew to cut the barge loose if it had threatened the safety of the tug.

"When it turns turtle, we can cut it loose, or we can tow it upside down," Hayes said.

-- The Valdez Vanguard