The mainstream press has been all excited about the relaunch of an old Russian fishing ship as a cruise ship. What they don’t say in their articles, is this ship is targeted to younger, able bodied passengers, not seniors or the disabled. We look at the ship, it’s history and ship classification, looking beneath the fun uniqueness of the tiny cruise ship Pacific Provider. The first clue is in their online promotion.
Offshore Outpost Expeditions (OOE), is owned by Offshore Outpost, LLC, with headquarters in Dallas, Texas. Their cruise ship Pacific Provider has few amenities, but includes free use of “high-end adventure gear”. Their promotion states, “12 lucky guests are treated to the most immersive and authentic adventure vacation of a lifetime.”
- No Medical facilities or doctor aboard
- Not handicap accessible – no wheelchair access
- The ship has three levels, including the main deck with passenger staterooms, second deck with a dining room, salon and both an indoor and outdoor bar area, and a top deck with a jacuzzi, comfortable outdoor furniture and lounge chairs.
- 4 tenders and a heavy-duty crane on board equipped for fishing, shore trips and other activities.
- All inclusive meals, beverages including beer, wine and hard liquor
Pacific Provider History
Pacific Provider was originally the oilfield supply boat STATE HAWK (ON 597969) built by Blount Marine in Warren, Rhode Island. In 1990 she was converted into a crab catcher at the Leevac Shipyard in Jennings LA and renamed Shelikof. She was among a group of fishing vessels sold for use under the Russian flag in 1994, later returned to U.S. custody.
In 2006, the Shelikof was sold to Eastern Pacific Yacht Club, who added a superstructure to accommodate public spaces and accommodations for 12 guests. Renamed Pacific Provider, the ship operated as a yacht supply vessel and on occasional luxury fishing charters. The Pacific Provider’s original power plant and single screw was replaced in 2006 with a pair of Detroit diesels and twin screws that can drive the ship at a cruising speed of 10 knots (12 maximum).
In 2007 she was converted to a yacht “mother ship” by Stabbart Marine of Seattle WA and renamed Pacific Provider for yachting-style voyages in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico and Alaska. The ship has an eight-member staff and crew headed by Captain Mike Morrissey.
Pacific Provider Passenger Cruise Ship
As a passenger cruise ship, the owners quickly ran afoul of the law. The ship was designed to be a commercial fishing vessel, not to carry paying passengers. This vessel has three USCG records which include the ship’s former life as a freight barge and fishing boat:
- 607621 – Freight Barge
- 597967 – Passenger (Uninspected)
- D597967 – Fishing Boat – Russia
On June 15, 2018, in Valdez, Alaska, United States Coast Guard (USCG) Captain of the Port Valdez ordered the Pacific Provider to return to its port of origin in Whittier, Alaska. Two passengers provided statements to a Coast Guard Station Valdez boarding team that they paid for a trip on the Pacific Provider. The boarding team found the vessel to be in violation of the Passenger Vessel Service Act.
USCG said that the Pacific Provider had received a letter from the Coast Guard Vessel Documentation Center prohibiting it from operating in Coastwise Trade because it had been previously registered in a foreign country. To be coastwise-qualified (i.e., U.S.-built, owned and documented). Under the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886 (46 U.S.C. § 55103), non-coastwise-qualified vessels cannot transport passengers directly between U.S. ports. Pacific Provider transports passengers between Alaska, Washington and San Diego.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The really important issue is this. Pacific Provider will never be inspected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC established the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) in the 1970s as a cooperative activity with the cruise ship industry. The program assists the cruise ship industry in fulfilling its responsibility for developing and implementing comprehensive sanitation programs to minimize the risk for acute gastroenteritis. Every vessel that has a foreign itinerary and carries 13 or more passengers is subject to twice-yearly unannounced inspections and, when necessary, reinspection.
In the case of Pacific Provider, the website states, “we have a fresh water maker that produces 7,000 gallons of drinkable water each day. We provide all guests with their own stainless steel water bottles for use on the trip that you get to bring home with you!”
But, the water supply aboard this old barge is not tested by the CDC for disease with history of deaths associated with it, such as Legionella, Norovirus, E. coli and Hepatitis A. Those who have died mostly had a weakened immunity and/or elderly. However, that was not always the case.
On February 1, 2005, Jonathan Kallas, 21, from Michigan, a second year chemistry student at the University of Michigan, was a strong, healthy, non-smoking, married man, father of a 4-year-old child, who took a cruise aboard Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Miracle, caught norovirus, then died two days after arriving home. Jonathan’s wife Julie came from home from work around 6 pm and found him dead. He was one of three family members who caught Norovirus on the cruise.
Legionella is a type of bacterium found naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams. It can become a health concern when it grows and spreads in human-made building water systems like
- Showerheads and sink faucets
- Cooling towers (structures that contain water and a fan as part of centralized air cooling systems for building or industrial processes)
- Hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use
- Decorative fountains and water features
- Hot water tanks and heaters
- Large plumbing systems
Top 10 Causes – Outbreaks in Public Water Systems
- Hepatitis A
- E. coli
By limiting passengers to twelve, Pacific Provider has skirted government over-sight on passenger health and sanitation conditions aboard this 40 year old ex-Russian fishing boat/barge.
Who Are Offshore Outpost Expeditions?
According to the OOE website, “Offshore Outpost Expeditions is the vision of David Mullen, a former Naval officer and adventurer who earned his MBA from Pepperdine while traveling the world. OOE addresses a gap in the expedition cruise market that serves small groups of active travelers who want to participate in creating their adventure. He and co-founders Cole Lysaught and Daniel Hund combine a passion for safely and sensitively sharing the wonders of unspoiled areas of the globe with the financial, operational and business management expertise to create and grow a scalable, sustainable company.”
With those credentials, it would seem Mullen should have known better than to let Pacific Provider sail without clearance by the USCG.
- Pacific Provider Cruise Ship Tracker
- USCG 607621 – Freight Barge Record
- USCG D597967 – Fishing Boat Russia Record
- USCG 40581 Reflagged USA January 27 2016
- CDC Cruise Ship Outbreaks
- Jonathan Kallas Norovirus Death
- Alaska Cruise Ship Tracker
- Caribbean Ship Tracker
Video: Offshore Outpost Expeditions Promo Video