A "Semester at Sea" research ship with 990 people on board was temporarily disabled in the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, and Coast Guard vessels and aircraft
from Alaska and Hawaii were dispatched to help. The 591-foot Explorer
lost power in three of its four engines when a 50-foot wave broke bridge windows, damaged controls and injured two crew members, the Coast Guard said. The ship for a time operated on just one of its four engines and could do little more than keep the bow headed into heavy seas using emergency steering. By Wednesday evening, a second engine had been started and the ship was making headway at a speed of about 10 knots in 35-foot waves and wind gusts of more than 50 mph, said a Coast Guard spokesman. The Coast Guard received word of the Explorer's situation at about 2:30 p.m. Alaska time. The ship was reported about 650 miles south of Adak, Alaska. Adak is in the Aleutian Islands about 1,300 miles southwest of Anchorage. The ship never lost internal electrical power and maintained good communications with the Coast Guard.Among the units responding was The Jarvis,
a 378-foot Coast Guard Cutter that departed from Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians. Reaching the vessel could take two days.Three Coast Guard HC-130 long-range aircraft
also were en route, including two from Kodiak, Alaska, and one from Barbers Point, Hawaii.
was about 1,600 miles from Honolulu and 800 miles from Midway Island. The Coast Guard
also directed four merchant vessels
to divert and assist the stricken vessel.
The MV Explorer
Semester at Sea is a global comparative study-abroad program for undergraduate students, said the director of enrollment management for the Institute for Shipboard Education. The program is academically sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh.