*The below statements are my personal opinion and are not made on behalf of my employer, Crowley, or our contracting party, Alyeska Pipeline Company.
There was an article in the Alaska Dispatch News today about the fact that Crowley has stopped bidding to renew their tanker escort and response contract with Alyeska, and Edison Chouest (pronounced “shwest”) is now the main contender. Chouest is non-union and there is little likelihood of anyone here in the Crowley fleet leaving their union jobs to work for Chouest in the future so they can keep this job specifically. A lot of livelihoods will be uprooted, and I’m sorry.
Crowley has not had a perfect record in Prince William Sound; the grounding of the Pathfinder in December 2009 certainly left everyone here with a black eye. But I feel that after all was said and done, the negotiations for this contract have hinged solely on the question of how much money Alyeska will pay for tanker escort and oil spill prevention and response services. The article also makes it sound like Crowley lost interest and just let it go, which I want to make clear is not the case; we fought hard to win this contract. The shoreside team has been pouring their lives into this contract bid for months.
One thing that cracks me up is the second to last sentence in the article, where a Chouest representative claims the grounding of the MODU (mobile offshore drilling unit) Kulluk on Sitkalidak island in December 2012 was “not our fault”. Really? The Kulluk was being towed by the “ice-class anchor-handling tow supply vessel” Aiviq, and although Shell may have demanded they leave Dutch Harbor and tow that monster across the Alaskan Gulf in the middle of the winter, for Chouest to fully deny any responsibility in the fiasco is disingenuous at best (access the full NTSB report for more information). I can’t imagine this attitude will set a positive precedent for their future dealings with the state of Alaska. It’s a shame.