Tugboat Sinks in St. Marys River

By MarEx 2013-07-01 13:28:00

Photo: The Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge crossing the river at the Canada–United States border.

Coast Guard crews are responding Monday morning to a tug that sank in the upper St. Marys River.

There is no Coast Guard imagery available at this time.

At 3:30 a.m., a search-and-rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., was contacted by the crew of the tug Bill Maier, which was towing three barges and the tug Hammond Bay when the crew lost sight of the Hammond Bay.

After securing the barges, the Bill Maier’s crew attempted to locate the lost tug. They reported finding an oil sheen and a life ring from the lost tug, which led them to believe that the tug had sunk.

There was no one aboard the tug Hammond Bay at the time it became lost. The tugs Bill Maier and Hammond Bay are owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Coast Guard responded to the incident with a boatcrew and pollution responder aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small, from Coast Guard Station Sault Ste. Marie, and an aircrew aboard an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., which is conducting aerial assessments.

The Bill Maier crew found the sunken tug in the middle of the St. Marys River under 27 feet of water.

The Coast Guard has established a safety zone around the sunken tug, and all boating traffic is being directed to stay clear of this area.

The Army Corps reports that the Hammond Bay has 200 gallons of diesel fuel and 15 gallons of oil aboard.

The Coast Guard is working with the Army Corps and other partners to minimize any environmental damage and impact to waterways that the sunken tug may present. They are also working on a way to remove the tug.