How the ammonia leak happened

The ship was 18 hours out when the leak started. A pipe in the engine room broke just where it entered a valve. They were able to shut that part of the system down, then the vessel headed back to Dutch Harbor to unload the catch and get a certified ammonia welder to fix the pipe. The Excellence has a welder onboard, but he’s not ammonia certified.

Once the ship had tied up at Kloosterboer two welders from a local company came on board and went down into the engine room with the chief to do the repair. When the pipe was fixed and that part of the system turned back on, the engine room filled with ammonia. The welders and the chief went running out but the damage had already been done. The two welders had to be air lifted out, one of them with serious injuries. Fortunately, a LifeMed Alaska jet was already on the way on an unrelated call. That jet was used to medevac the welders. The Telegraph was unable to learn whether the Excellence’s chief engineer was air lifted out or was treated locally at the clinic.

The Excellence is a 367-foot factory trawler with a crew of around 135. It is owned by Premier Pacific Seafoods of Seattle.