Grounded Bulker in Oregon Has "Significant" Damage

Image courtesy USCG Thirteenth District

By MarEx 2016-03-22 20:02:10

The U.S. Coast Guard's Thirteenth District has released results of a damage assessment for the grounded bulker Sparna, showing significant damage to the vessel's hull.

The assessment was performed by contractors Ballard Marine Construction on Tuesday morning, and found multiple fractures, the largest being a 25-foot by five-foot crack with a visible boulder lodged inside.

However, despite the extensive impact damage, hull penetrations were limited to two flooded compartments.

The 620-foot Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier Sparna went aground in a narrow stretch of the Columbia River near Cathlamet, Washington, in the early hours of Monday morning.

The USCG says that she had a river pilot onboard and was in the outbound lane when she ran into trouble. The exact cause of the incident is still under investigation, but the USCG suggests that she hit a submerged object. 

The Coast Guard, alongside state pollution responders and a contracted oil spill response organization continue to monitor the Sparna. There still have been no signs of oil spilled during the incident.

Captain Dan Travers, commander Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, said that while there was no pollution observed to date, responders are prepared to respond to the worst case scenario. The USCG continues to use aircraft overflights to monitor for an oil sheen.

A team led by the USCG intends to move the vessel upriver to Longview on Wednesday morning if conditions permit.

The tugboats PJ Brix and Pacific Escort are still with the Sparna to help it hold position. The Columbia River remains open to all traffic, but the Coast Guard says that it may need to limit the passage of deep-draft commercial vessels once the Sparna begins its transit upriver for repair.

The USCG has confirmed that the Sparna is fully loaded with grain in its cargo holds, and is carrying 200,000 gallons of high sulfur fuel and 40,000 gallons of marine diesel.