Video: Cargo Barge Breaks Free and Drifts into Seattle Waterfront

runaway barge in Seattle
Tugs recovered the barge after it made cotnact on the Seattle waterfront (USCG photo)

Published Nov 2, 2023 8:12 PM by The Maritime Executive


The quick-thinking captain of a Seattle water taxi is being credited with helping to advert a potentially more damaging situation midday today on Elliott Bay when a cargo barge broke free in the harbor.  The Fire Department, the Coast Guard, and city agencies were responding to the emergency with reports that they ordered parts of the waterfront including several buildings and the Seattle Aquarium evacuated. A spokesperson for the Aquarium told the newspaper that with the barge diverted they were able to remain open.

According to information from the local government agency King County Metro, Captain Dan Krehbiel was crossing the harbor toward Pier 50 at around 1:00 p.m. when crewmembers alerted him to a cargo barge. He observed that the barge appeared to be floating free without a tug and so the captain moved his water taxi into position. 




He was able to reposition the barge which appeared to be fully loaded over 200 containers as well as cars and other vehicles. The barge was diverted from its path toward the Aquarium and ended up making contact further north along the waterfront near a small marina and Pier 66. 

On social media residents reported making calls to the local police and the fire department after they saw the barge drifting across the harbor. They also observed the efforts of the water taxi.

The U.S. Coast Guard reports it notified at 1:25 p.m. of the situation with the barge. They determined that it broke free from Terminal 18, one of the Port of Seattle’s container facilities. Three tugs including one seen in the pictures from Foss Marine were finally able to corral the wayward barge and bring it to Terminal 115. 


The Coast Guard was checking the waterfront for damage reporting that there appears to be some damage in the area of Pier 66 when the barge made contact. However, due to the fast actions of everyone involved, no one was injured and there are no reports of pollution. The cargo remained aboard the barge.

Seattle was experiencing high winds with weather reports of gusts of over 20 mph. Pictures show a strong chop on Elliott Bay.