Tug Crew Rescued after Alaska Grounding

By The Maritime Executive 2017-03-02 18:35:08

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued five people from a tug that ran aground on the Mariposa Reef in Alaska on Thursday.

The Air Station Sitka MH-60T Jayhawk aircrew hoisted the five people from a barge attached to the 102-foot tug Ocean Eagle and transported them to Sitka after the tug began taking on water in the engine room on Wednesday night.

The tug is carrying a total of 58,000 gallons of diesel fuel divided among several tanks. The barge is carrying mixed dry cargo and 52,000 gallons of diesel. It is not yet known if a spill has occurred, but the Coast Guard, Sector Juneau, is in consultation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for oil trajectory calculations.

The Ocean Eagle and barge refloated and drifted to Alvin Cove at approximately 3 a.m. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Liberty arrived on scene to the Ocean Eagle at approximately 7:30 a.m. with pollution response equipment. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Maple arrived shortly thereafter. 

Both Coast Guard cutters remain on scene assessing the situation, looking for signs of pollution and verifying nearby aids to navigation. Commercial tugs contracted by the Ocean Eagle's owner are on scene to dewater, effect repairs and mitigate potential pollution.

"The aircrew faced harsh weather conditions early Thursday morning when they saved five crew members off the barge," said Cmdr. Gina Freeman, search and rescue mission coordinator for Sector Juneau. "Fortunately, there was no loss of life. Today, Coast Guard Sector Juneau and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation continue to work with the tug's owner to remove the tug and barge and minimize any pollution to the environment."

Weather on scene was 34-mph winds with six-foot seas and 11.5 miles of visibility.