Three Crewmembers Saved from Sinking Tugboat off South Carolina

sinking tug
Rescue boats surround the sinking tug (North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad/Facebook)

Published Aug 10, 2023 7:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

Details emerged from a heroic rescue that included local forces and the U.S. Coast Guard to save three crewmembers from a tugboat off the coast of South Carolina. The incident took place on August 8 approximately three miles off North Myrtle Beach.

The tug was identified by the North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad as the Jacqueline A. reportedly owned by Ward Towing out of Virginia. The vessel was built in 1981 and 59 feet in length powered by twin screw with 680 hp. It appears from its AIS signal to have departed Virginia on August 6 but was reporting a destination of Baltimore, Maryland although it had traveled to the south.

The North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad's Water Rescue Team responded with North Myrtle Beach Fire, North Myrtle Beach Police Department's Beach Patrol, Horry County Fire Rescue Boat 2, Calabash Fire Department, and a tow boat, in an effort also coordinated by the U.S. Coast Guard.


Rescue swimmer in the water with three people on the bow of the sinking tug (North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad/Facebook)


By the time the rescue services reached the vessel it was already largely underwater with three crewmembers in lifejackets on the bow. Three swimming rescues were undertaken to safely retrieve each of the crewmembers who were transported to shore by the Horry County rescue boat.

The tug sank in 31 feet of water. According to the USCG, there were approximately 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board. There are no reports of shoreline impacts, and the vessel’s owner is coordinating with local salvage to mitigate environmental and waterway impacts. Coast Guard crews are evaluating the site to determine if there is a specific navigational hazard.