Spirit Of Columbia Cruise Ship Grounding Evans Island Alaska – On August 19, 2007 Cruise West Spirit of Columbia aground on mud bar east side of Evans Island, in Latouche Passage, near Whittier, Alaska. The cruise ship ran aground at approximately 9:53 am.
The Captain piloted the ship too close to shore while bear viewing.
Cruise West cruise ship Spirit Of Columbia, is 143 feet long. She was built in 1979 and has been cruising in Alaska with an all American crew.
The Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore from Cordova, and two HH-60 helicopters and a C-130 aircraft from Kodiak were deployed to assist the ship near Anchorage, Alaska. Spirit of Columbia crew were able to free the ship themselves, but the Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore escorted the Spirit of Columbia back to Whittier for inspection.
Weather conditions on scene at the time of the grounding were 2 – 4 foot seas and visibility at 4 – 6 miles.
There were 78 passengers aboard at the time of the incident. The ship takes 3 to 10 day voyages departing from the home port of Juneau, Alaska.
Founded in 1973 by Chuck West, Cruise West started out as an Alaska tour operator. It wasn’t until 1990 that the company purchased its first overnight vessel, the 52-passenger Spirit of Glacier Bay. Through the 1990’s the company increasingly focused on cruising and expanded its fleet and added new non-Alaskan destinations such as the Columbia & Snake Rivers, British Columbia, California’s wine country, and into Mexico’s Sea of Cortes.
In January 2006 Cruise West purchased the US flagged half of Clipper Cruise Line’s fleet. Clipper Cruise lines has since sold off its remaining vessels and went out of business.
On September 18, 2010, Cruise West announced that it will cease operations with the exception of the Sept 22 Danube Cruise. Six ships were sold off to other companies: Spirit of Oceanus, Spirit of Endeavour, Spirit of ’98, Spirit of Discovery, Spirit of Alaska, Spirit of Columbia.