Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Stan Stephens' Oil Spill Journal

Stephens_Stan headshot.jpgBorn and raised in Minnesota, Captain Stan Stephens was an Alaska resident since 1961.  Arriving in April of that year, he first camped on vacant property and later purchased the land and built his home in the North Pole area.  Stephens was married in 1964 to Mary Helen. Together they raised their family of three daughters in North Pole.

Stephens was the owner and operator of Stan Stephens Glacier and Wildlife Cruises based in Valdez, Alaska.  The company, originally named North Star Marine Charters, began sport fishing charters in 1971 and over the years evolved into the sightseeing company it is today.

Stephens became involved with state tourism issues in 1978 and with safety of the shipping of oil in 1986.  Stephens held offices and volunteered as a board and committee member for many tourism, conservation, and marine safety organizations over the years including over 20 years of active involvement for the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council (PWSRCAC)  The mission of PWSRCAC is to act as an oversight organization to assure safe shipment of oil in Prince William Sound.  Stan Stephens was a PWSRCAC board member from 1990-2012 and served as president from 1993-1995, again in 1998, and from 2004-2007.

Stephens led the PWSRCAC’s effort to convince regulators and the oil industry that a system to control tanker loading vapors was needed at the Valdez Marine Terminal, which led to the completion and start-up of such a system in 1998.  He advocated for the use of advanced tractor tugs to increase the safety of tanker traffic in Prince William Sound, and this effort was rewarded in 1999 with the advent of two new tractor tugs to assist and protect tankers carrying North Slope crude oil.  Prince William Sound now has a total of five tractor tugs facilitating the safe oil transportation through the Sound. 

Stan Stephens passed away on September 21, 2013. He is survived by his wife of nearly 49 years, Mary Helen, his daughters Carrie, Jenna and Colleen, and his grandchildren Kate, Josiah, Daniel, Hannah, Allison and Abigail. For more about Stan Stephens, see his obituary in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner newspaper.

Captain Stan Stephens kept a journal documenting the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill wherein he recorded his contemporaneous thoughts and feelings about the situation as it unfolded. 

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