January 1, 1970
The waters of Southeast Alaska are safer for all marine traffic, thanks to a significant contribution in oil spill response equipment purchased by the member lines of the Alaska Cruise Association (ACA).
The program, first begun in 1999, consists of the cruise lines purchasing four sets of oil spill response barges, which are positioned in Ketchikan, Juneau, Glacier Bay and Yakutat. The cost of the barges was $1.2 million, paid for by the member lines. A fifth set was later deployed in Haines.
The barges were turned over to SEAPRO (South East Alaska Petroleum Response Organization) to operate as an integral component of SEAPRO's response program. They are available for response to spills from any source and were used in response to a state ferry grounding in 2005. The Northwest CruiseShip Association (NWCA), ACA's sister organization based in Vancouver, B.C., entered into a 15-year agreement with SEAPRO in 2000. The cruise lines, through NWCA, contribute $206,000 annually for the operation, maintenance and insurance of the barges. The total amount over the life of the contract is $3.1 million. In addition the member lines maintain their own agreements for oil spill response within Alaska waters.
NWCA also entered into a parallel contract with AMAK Towing for a "vessel of opportunity" service to ensure that a tow vessel is always available to move the barges to the scene of an accident. The payment for this service is $75,000 a year.