Prince William Sound (Russian: Чугацкий залив Čugatski zaliv) is a sound of the Gulf of Alaska on the south coast of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is located on the east side of the Kenai Peninsula. Its largest port is Valdez, at the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. Other settlements on the sound, which contains numerous small islands, include Cordova and Whittier plus the Alaska native villages of Chenega and Tatitlek.
James Cook entered Prince William Sound in 1778 and initially named it Sandwich Sound, after his patron the Earl of Sandwich. Later that year, the Sound was named to honour George III's third son Prince William Henry, then aged 13 and serving as a midshipman in the Royal Navy.
In 1793, Alexander Andreyevich Baranov founded port Voskresensk in the sound, which he called Chugach Bay. The first three-masted ship, Phoenix, was the first ship built by the Russians in America.:11–13
In 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef after leaving Valdez, causing a large oil spill, which resulted in massive damage to the environment, including the killing of around 250,000 seabirds, nearly 3,000 sea otters, 300 harbour seals, 250 bald eagles and up to 22 killer whales.
Most of the land surrounding Prince William Sound is part of the Chugach National Forest, the second largest national forest in the U.S. Prince William Sound is ringed by the steep and glaciated Chugach Mountains. The coastline is convoluted, with many islands and fjords, several of which contain tidewater glaciers. The principal barrier islands forming the sound are Montague Island, Hinchinbrook Island, and Hawkins Island.
The 1964 Alaskan earthquake, also known as the Great Alaskan earthquake and Good Friday earthquake, occurred at 5:36 PM AKST on Good Friday, March 27 during a spring-tide/full-moon. Across south-central Alaska, ground fissures, collapsing structures, and tsunamis resulting from the earthquake caused about 139 deaths.Lasting four minutes and thirty-eight seconds, the magnitude 9.2 megathrust earthquake remains the most powerful earthquake recorded in North American history, and the second most powerful earthquake recorded in world history. Six hundred miles (970 km) of fault ruptured at once and moved up to 60 ft (18 m), releasing about 500 years of stress buildup. Soil liquefaction, fissures, landslides, and other ground failures caused major structural damage in several communities and much damage to property. Anchorage sustained great destruction or damage to many inadequately earthquake-engineered houses, buildings, and infrastructure (paved streets, sidewalks, water and sewer mains, electrical systems, and other man-made equipment), particularly in the several landslide zones along Knik Arm. Two hundred miles (320 km) southwest, some areas near Kodiak were permanently raised by 30 feet (9 m). Southeast of Anchorage, areas around the head of Turnagain Arm near Girdwood and Portage dropped as much as 8 feet (2.4 m), requiring reconstruction and fill to raise the Seward Highway above the new high tide mark.
In Prince William Sound, Port Valdez suffered a massive underwater landslide, resulting in the deaths of 32 people between the collapse of the Valdez city harbor and docks, and inside the ship that was docked there at the time. Nearby, a 27-foot (8.2 m) tsunami destroyed the village of Chenega, killing 23 of the 68 people who lived there; survivors out-ran the wave, climbing to high ground. Post-quake tsunamis severely affected Whittier, Seward, Kodiak, and other Alaskan communities, as well as people and property in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California. Tsunamis also caused damage in Hawaii and Japan. Evidence of motion directly related to the earthquake was also reported from Florida and Texas.Alutiiq
The Alutiiq people (pronounced in English; from Promyshlenniki Russian Алеутъ, "Aleut"; plural often "Alutiit"), also called by their ancestral name Sugpiaq ( or ; plural often "Sugpiat") as well as Pacific Eskimo or Pacific Yupik, are a southern coastal people of Alaska Natives. They are not to be confused with the Aleuts, who live further to the southwest, including along the Aleutian Islands.
Their traditional homelands include Prince William Sound and outer Kenai Peninsula (Chugach Sugpiaq), the Kodiak Archipelago and the Alaska Peninsula (Koniag Alutiiq). In the early 1800s there were more than 60 Alutiiq villages in the Kodiak archipelago with an estimated population of 13,000 people. Today more than 4,000 Alutiiq people live in Alaska.Bligh Reef
Bligh Reef, sometimes known as Bligh Island Reef, is a reef off the coast of Bligh Island in Prince William Sound, Alaska. This was the location of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. After the incident, US Code 33 § 2733 mandated the operation of an automated navigation light to prevent future collisions with the reef. Despite these efforts the tug Pathfinder ran aground on Bligh Reef on Dec 24, 2009, rupturing its tanks and spilling diesel fuel. Bligh Reef is also where Alaska Steamship Company's Olympia ran aground in 1910.Bligh Reef serves as a fishing ground for halibut and a harvesting area for shrimp. The nearest town is Tatitlek, which lies 7 miles to the northeast.The reef was named after William Bligh, of future HMS Bounty fame, who served as Master aboard ship during James Cook's third world voyage.Chenega, Alaska
Chenega (Alutiiq: Caniqaq) is a census-designated place (CDP) on Evans Island in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. Located in Prince William Sound, the CDP consists of the Chugach Alutiiq village of Chenega Bay, which was established only after the Good Friday earthquake destroyed the original community on Chenega Island to the north. As of the 2010 census, the population of the CDP was 76, largely Alaska Natives. Chenega Bay is in the Chugach School District and has one school, Chenega Bay Community School, serving a little over 10 students from preschool through high schoolChugach
Chugach , Chugach Sugpiaq or Chugachigmiut is the name of an Alaska Native people in the region of the Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound on the southern coast of Alaska. The Chugach people are an Alutiiq (Pacific Eskimo) people who speak the Chugach dialect of the Alutiiq language.Chugach Mountains
The Chugach Mountains of southern Alaska are the northernmost of the several mountain ranges that make up the Pacific Coast Ranges of the western edge of North America. The range is about 250 miles (402 km) long and 60 miles (97 km) wide, and extends from the Knik and Turnagain Arms of the Cook Inlet on the west to Bering Glacier, Tana Glacier, and the Tana River on the east. It is bounded on the north by the Matanuska, Copper, and Chitina rivers. The highest point of the Chugach Mountains is Mount Marcus Baker, at 13,094 feet (3,991 m), but with an average elevation of 4,006 feet (1,221 m), most of its summits are not especially high. Even so its position along the Gulf of Alaska ensures more snowfall in the Chugach than anywhere else in the world, an annual average of over 1500 cm (800 in).The mountains are protected in the Chugach State Park and the Chugach National Forest. Near to Anchorage, they are a popular destination for outdoor activities.
The Richardson Highway, Seward Highway, Portage Glacier Highway, and the Glenn Highway run through the Chugach Mountains. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel of the Portage Glacier Highway provides railroad and automobile access underneath Maynard Mountain between Portage Lake and the city of Whittier on Prince William Sound.Chugach National Forest
The Chugach National Forest is a 6,908,540-acre (27,958 km2) United States National Forest in south central Alaska. Covering portions of Prince William Sound, the Kenai Peninsula and the Copper River Delta, it was formed in 1907 from part of a larger forest reserve. The Chugach includes extensive shorelines, glaciers, forests and rivers, much of which is untouched by roads or trails. It hosts numerous bird, mammal and marine species, including extensive shorebird habitat and a bald eagle population larger than the contiguous 48 states combined. Human industry in the forest includes extensive tourism and some mining and oil and gas operations.Chugach School District
The Chugach School District is a school district headquartered in Anchorage, Alaska. It operates three brick-and-mortar schools in Prince William Sound, Alaska; a homeschool program that serves students across the state; and a short-term residential school out of Anchorage.
The three brick-and-mortar schools of Chenega Bay, Tatitlek, and Whittier encompass an area 22,000 square miles (57,000 km2) across South Central Alaska.Cordova, Alaska
Cordova () is a small town located near the mouth of the Copper River in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area, Alaska, United States, at the head of Orca Inlet on the east side of Prince William Sound. The population was 2,239 at the 2010 census, down from 2,454 in 2000. Cordova was named Puerto Cordova by Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo in 1790. No roads connect Cordova to other Alaskan towns, so a plane or ferry is required to travel there. In the Exxon Valdez oil spill of March 1989, an oil tanker ran aground northwest of Cordova, heavily damaging ecology and fishing. It was cleaned up shortly after, but there are lingering effects, such as a lowered population of some birds.Exxon Valdez
Oriental Nicety, formerly Exxon Valdez, Exxon Mediterranean, SeaRiver Mediterranean, S/R Mediterranean, Mediterranean, and Dong Fang Ocean, was an oil tanker that gained notoriety after running aground in Prince William Sound spilling hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil in Alaska. On March 24, 1989, while owned by the former Exxon Shipping Company, and captained by Joseph Hazelwood and First Mate James Kunkel bound for Long Beach, California, the vessel ran aground on the Bligh Reef resulting in the second largest oil spill in United States history. The size of the spill is estimated to have been 40,900 to 120,000 m3 (10,800,000 to 31,700,000 US gal), or 257,000 to 750,000 barrels. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil spill was listed as the 54th largest spill in history.Exxon Valdez oil spill
The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, March 24, 1989, when Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker owned by Exxon Shipping Company, bound for Long Beach, California, struck Prince William Sound's Bligh Reef, 1.5 miles west of Tatitlek, Alaska at 12:04 am local time and spilled 10.8 million US gallons (260,000 bbl)(or a mass of 35,000 metric tonnes) of crude oil over the next few days. It is considered to be one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters. The Valdez spill is the second largest in US waters, after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in terms of volume released. Prince William Sound's remote location, accessible only by helicopter, plane, or boat, made government and industry response efforts difficult and severely taxed existing response plans. The region is a habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals and seabirds. The oil, originally extracted at the Prudhoe Bay oil field, eventually covered 1,300 miles (2,100 km) of coastline, and 11,000 square miles (28,000 km2) of ocean.According to official reports, the ship was carrying 53,094,510 gallons (1,264,155 barrels) of oil, of which about 10.8 million US gallons (260,000 bbl; 41,000 m3) were spilled into the Prince William Sound. An approximate figure of 11 million US gallons (260,000 bbl; 42,000 m3) was a commonly accepted estimate of the spill's volume and has been used by the State of Alaska's Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.
Multiple factors have been identified as contributing to the incident:
Exxon Shipping Company failed to supervise the master and provide a rested and sufficient crew for Exxon Valdez. The NTSB found this was widespread throughout the industry, prompting a safety recommendation to Exxon and to the industry.
The third mate failed to properly maneuver the vessel, possibly due to fatigue or excessive workload.
Exxon Shipping Company failed to properly maintain the Raytheon Collision Avoidance System (RAYCAS) radar, which, if functional, would have indicated to the third mate an impending collision with the Bligh Reef by detecting the "radar reflector", placed on the next rock inland from Bligh Reef for the purpose of keeping ships on course. This cause has only been identified by Greg Palast (without evidentiary support) and is not present in the official accident report.Captain Joseph Hazelwood, who was widely reported to have been drinking heavily that night, was not at the controls when the ship struck the reef. However, as the senior officer, he was in command of the ship even though he was asleep in his bunk. In light of the other findings, investigative reporter Greg Palast stated in 2008, "Forget the drunken skipper fable. As to Captain Joe Hazelwood, he was below decks, sleeping off his bender. At the helm, the third mate never would have collided with Bligh Reef had he looked at his RAYCAS radar. But the radar was not turned on. In fact, the tanker's radar was left broken and disabled for more than a year before the disaster, and Exxon management knew it. It was just too expensive to fix and operate." Exxon blamed Captain Hazelwood for the grounding of the tanker.Other factors, according to an MIT course entitled "Software System Safety" by Professor Nancy G. Leveson, included:
Ships were not informed that the previous practice of the Coast Guard tracking ships out to Bligh Reef had ceased.
The oil industry promised, but never installed, state-of-the-art iceberg monitoring equipment.
Exxon Valdez was sailing outside the normal sea lane to avoid small icebergs thought to be in the area.
The 1989 tanker crew was half the size of the 1977 crew, worked 12- to 14-hour shifts, plus overtime. The crew was rushing to leave Valdez with a load of oil.
Coast Guard vessel inspections in Valdez were not performed, and the number of staff was reduced.
Lack of available equipment and personnel hampered the spill cleanup.This disaster resulted in International Maritime Organization introducing comprehensive marine pollution prevention rules (MARPOL) through various conventions. The rules were ratified by member countries and, under International Ship Management rules, the ships are being operated with a common objective of "safer ships and cleaner oceans".In 2009, Exxon Valdez Captain Joseph Hazelwood offered a "heartfelt apology" to the people of Alaska, suggesting he had been wrongly blamed for the disaster: "The true story is out there for anybody who wants to look at the facts, but that's not the sexy story and that's not the easy story," he said. Hazelwood said he felt Alaskans always gave him a fair shake.Gulf of Alaska
The Gulf of Alaska (French: Golfe d'Alaska) is an arm of the Pacific Ocean defined by the curve of the southern coast of Alaska, stretching from the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island in the west to the Alexander Archipelago in the east, where Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage are found.
The Gulf shoreline is a rugged combination of forest, mountain and a number of tidewater glaciers. Alaska's largest glaciers, the Malaspina Glacier and Bering Glacier, spill out onto the coastal line along the Gulf of Alaska. The coast is heavily indented with Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound, the two largest connected bodies of water. It includes Yakutat Bay and Cross Sound. Lituya Bay (a fijord north of Cross Sound, and south of Mount Fairweather) is the site of the largest recorded tsunami in history. It serves as a sheltered anchorage for fishing boats.List of Alaska state parks
Alaska’s state park system is managed by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. The system contains over 120 units spanning over three million acres (one million two hundred thousand hectares), making it far larger than any other state park system in the United States. The State Park system began in 1970 with the creation of Denali State Park, Chugach State Park and Kachemak Bay State Park, three of the largest and still most popular parks in the state system. Wood-Tikchik State Park is the largest state park in the United States, comprising some 15% of total state park land in the nation. The division manages full state parks, state recreation areas, state recreation sites, and state historic sites.Orca Inlet
Orca Inlet is an arm of Prince William Sound in southern Alaska. The town of Cordova was founded on its coast in 1906. All marine traffic reaches the town through Orca Inlet.Prince William Sound College
Prince William Sound College (formerly Prince William Sound Community College and also known as PWSC and P-DUB) is a college located at 303 Lowe St. in Valdez, Alaska. PWSC comprises one main campus in Valdez and extension campuses in Glennallen and Cordova. Outreach sites are in Chitina, Chistochina, Kenny Lake, Mentasta, and Slana. The college is part of the University of Alaska Anchorage under the aegis of the University of Alaska System.
PWSC services approximately 44,000 sq. mi., about the area of Ohio. Almost 1,000 local, rural, and out-of-state students attend the college in face-to-face or ITV classrooms or via Blackboard. There is no out-of-state tuition.SeaRiver Maritime
SeaRiver Maritime is a privately held subsidiary wholly owned by ExxonMobil. The company was formed in the early 1990s by Exxon when it spun off its maritime operations into the new company following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.In 1994, SeaRiver applied for a federal subsidy to operate tankers in the Persian Gulf. The petition stated they needed the money to stay competitive, because the S/R Mediterranean (the new name for the Exxon Valdez vessel) was unable to operate in Prince William Sound following the passage of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which prohibits the tanker from operating in that area.In 1996, SeaRiver sought to put the S/R Mediterranean back into Prince William Sound by arguing that the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 was unconstitutional. The Act prohibits any vessel that has spilled more than a million gallons of oil from operating in Prince William Sound. SeaRiver claimed the act was retroactively being applied to the S/R Mediterranean. In 1998, a judge ruled against SeaRiver.The company currently operates three tankers engaged in the Alaska-West Coast crude oil trade. In July 2011, the company ordered two new crude oil tankers to be built at Aker Philadelphia Shipyard, due to be delivered in 2014, which will replace two existing vessels. According to Business Wire's news release at the announcement, the ships would be equipped with double hull protection and the latest in navigation and communications equipment. In addition, they will exceed current regulatory standards for polluting emissions. In 2012, SeaRiver Maritime Inc was awarded the prestigious British Safety Council International Safety Award with distinction.Southcentral Alaska
Southcentral Alaska is the portion of the U.S. state of Alaska consisting of the shorelines and uplands of the central Gulf of Alaska. Most of the population of the state lives in this region, concentrated in and around the city of Anchorage.The area includes Cook Inlet, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, the Kenai Peninsula, Prince William Sound, and the Copper River Valley. Tourism, fisheries, and petroleum production are important economic activities.Tiger rockfish
The tiger rockfish (Sebastes nigrocinctus), also called tiger seaperch, banded rockfish and black-banded rockfish, is a fish found in rocky reefs and boulder fields. It is found in the northeast Pacific Ocean off Kodiak Island, and from Prince William Sound, Alaska, south to Point Buchon, central California. This species of fish is territorial,
and somewhat aggressive in certain cases. The fish lurks between crevices in rocks, and coral reefs.Scientists have dated some fish to be up to 166 years old. It is very vulnerable, with a minimum population doubling time of 14 years.
The tiger rockfish reaches a maximum length of 24 in (61 cm). It is orange or light red with several broad, dark bars along the body.Valdez, Alaska
Valdez (; Alutiiq: Suacit) is a city in Valdez-Cordova Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to the 2010 US Census, the population of the city is 3,976, down from 4,036 in 2000. The city was named in 1790 after the Spanish Navy Minister Antonio Valdés y Fernández Bazán. A former Gold Rush town, it is located at the head of a fjord on the eastern side of Prince William Sound. The port did not flourish until after the road link to Fairbanks was constructed in 1899. It suffered catastrophic damage during the 1964 Alaska earthquake, and is located near the site of the disastrous 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill. Today it is one of the most important ports in Alaska, a commercial fishing port as well as a freight terminal.