Video: Tug Girted by Towline During Attempt to Help Tall Ship

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Juan Carlos Sanchez Arosemena / Twitter

Published Oct 19, 2021 5:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, a harbor tug was girted by its own line while attempting to help a tall ship in distress at the port of Guayaquil, Ecuador. 

During a transit of Guayaquil's Guayas River on Monday afternoon, the Brazilian Navy tall ship Cisne Blanco (White Swan) lost power and went adrift, according to local media. The sailing vessel came to rest beam-to on the Isla Santay Bridge, a recently-built pedestrian bridge connecting the island to downtown Guayaquil. Bystander video shows that Cisne Blanco drifted into the second span from the bridge's western end, missing an open drawbridge by about 400 feet. 

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Two tugs were already on scene - a large modern harbor tug and a smaller traditional tug - and they maneuvered to assist. The larger tug took a position upstream and made up to the Cisne Blanco's stern, while the smaller one stayed downstream and made fast to the tall ship's bow.

As the large tug pulled Blanco away from the bridge, the smaller tug was yanked along stern-first by her tow line. Within about 10 seconds, the small tug yawed sideways and was girted by the line. Luckily, there were no injuries, the Guayaquil fire department reported.

According to local media, the Isla Santay bridge was criticized as a hazard to navigation even before its construction. It has been struck by marine traffic three times in the past, once in 2017 and twice in 2018, and some local maritime interests are advocating for its removal.