An Allen Marine Tours boat traverses the waters of Southeast Alaska in this 2013 photo. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)
A wildlife viewing tour operator in Southeast Alaska says they had seven boats taken out of operation on Wednesday after the Coast Guard inspected 10 of their vessels.
Allen Marine Tours operates scenic and wildlife-viewing tours in and around Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka.
Chief Petty Officer Matthew Schofield, spokesperson for Coast Guard District 17, deferred most questions to Allen Marine. But he did confirm inspectors found multiple issues.
In a press release, the Coast Guard wrote that the violations ranged from “material condition to crew familiarity” that need to be corrected before the boats can sail again. According to the Coast Guard, seven of the boats inspected were in Juneau and three were in Sitka. Of those inspected vessels, the Coast Guard said six in Juneau and one in Sitka were taken out of service.
Schofield said the company is fixing the problems, but couldn’t give a timeline for when the boats can resume tours.
The company sent a statement saying that the Coast Guard found crew training issues. Company spokesperson Zakary Kirkpatrick wrote in an email that the inspections “identified a few items for improvement on select vessels. This resulted in the inability for us to operate scheduled tours aboard those vessels.”
Kirkpatrick wrote that they have always worked with the Coast Guard to ensure compliance and passenger safety and that they’ve safely carried more than 1 million guests on tours of Southeast Alaska.
Kirkpatrick said most of the guests scheduled for tours Thursday were able to be rebooked on other Allen Marine vessels.
Corrections: A previous version of this story said that the Coast Guard had suspended operation of 10 Allen Marine Tours boats on Thursday. According to the Coast Guard, they inspected 10 boats but only suspended seven of them on Wednesday.
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