USNS Sioux successfully completes tow of HMCS Protecteur

USNS Sioux (T-ATF 171) completed the successful tow of the Canadian oiler HMCS Protecteur into port in Hawaii, Thursday. Sioux was one of three Navy ships that assisted the Protecteur following an engine room fire that crippled the ship in the Pacific Ocean late Feb. 27. The following blog is by Sarah Burford, Military Sealift Command Pacific public affairs.

 

PEARL HARBOR (March 6, 2014)  USNS Sioux (T-ATF 171) tows the Royal Canadian Navy auxiliary oil replenishment ship HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509) to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Protecteur experienced an engine fire en route to Canada and returned to Pearl Harbor with the assistance of U.S. Navy ships. (U.S. Navy photo by MC1Daniel Barker)

PEARL HARBOR (March 6, 2014) USNS Sioux (T-ATF 171) tows the Royal Canadian Navy auxiliary oil replenishment ship HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509) to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Protecteur experienced an engine fire en route to Canada and returned to Pearl Harbor with the assistance of U.S. Navy ships. (U.S. Navy photo by MC1Daniel Barker)

 

Sioux took over towing operations from USS Chosin (CG 65) March 2 following tow complications, and towed Protecteur for the remaining four days into port.  

The ship is one of the Navy’s four fleet ocean tugs operating worldwide, capable of towing other ships, lifting heavy objects like downed aircraft, and deploying divers for rescue and salvage operations.

No stranger to ship tows, the civil service mariner crew of the 226-foot Sioux knows the challenges that can occur when towing a ship two – sometimes three – times the size of your own vessel. When Sioux, the fleet ocean tug in the Hawaiian area of operations, first learned of Protecteur’s situation, the tug was supporting dive operations off shore. Immediately, dive ops were suspended, the bulk of the dive gear was returned to Pearl Harbor and Sioux began preparations for its new mission.  

Once underway, Sioux confronted severe storm conditions with high winds and 12-foot seas. In most situations, tow hook-ups are prescheduled and performed in the controlled environment of port, where conditions are predictable and easily managed. In the case of the Protecteur, the situation required a tow hook-up in open water, Weather conditions made connecting the tow line to Protecteur challenging. During the transit back to port, Sioux was forced to hold a speed of two knots at times.

“The success of this mission is a great example of the outstanding working relationship and team effort of the U.S. Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy,” said Cmdr. Ray Franklin, operations officer, Military Sealift Command Pacific. “MSC prides its self on being in a constant state of readiness, and Sioux’s ability to suspend one mission and quickly transition to successfully complete another, in the arduous conditions that they had to operate in, is a great example of the commitment of the Sioux’s crew and our entire workforce who supported and guided the ship’s operations over the past week.”  

Protecteur had just finished operating within U.S. 3rd Fleet’s area of responsibility, serving as the oil replenishment ship and assisting other ships operating within the area for the month of February. The fire occurred during the ship’s transit back to Esquimalt, British Columbia.

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