Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tug Boat Sinks Off St. Paul Island In The Bering Sea

I'm catching up on news today and found this. Better late than never I guess.

On June 26, 2011, the 68 ft tug boat Aries started taking on water at approximately 6am, 109 miles east of St. Paul Island in the Pribilofs. They were listing 25-30 degrees starboard.

The May Day Call to the Coast Guard.

Fortunately they were towing a barge, so the four crew members were able to put on their survival suits and get onto the barge.

It also sounds like it was a warmer, calmer Bering Sea day thank goodness. The water temps were 46 degrees Fahrenheit, there were 29 mph winds and 11 ft seas. Someone was looking after this crew.

The Coast Guard sent a HC-130 Hercules airplane and a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Kodiak, and also diverted the icebreaker Healy to the scene. The airplane arrived about 9:30 am and confirmed the vessel sunk and that the crew was aboard the barge. The fishing vessel the Alaska Knight was nearby and also headed to the rescue, they arrived at 11:10 am.

The Coast Guard helicopter reached the crew about 1:30 pm and pulled them aboard the helicopter. The crew was taken to St. Paul harbor. There were no reported injuries. They arrived in St. Paul about an hour after being lifted from the barge.

A 1500x800 foot or 1.2 million square foot oil sheen was spotted. I saw both numbers. I must say one sounds substantially larger than the other, I'm not sure which number is correct maybe neither. The Coast Guard and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation are working with the vessel's owner to salvage the tug and deal with any environmental concerns.

The tug boat is owned by C&K Marine, out of Anchorage and reportedly had 29,000 gallons of diesel on board.

The barge was anchored and a tug from Naknek will go fetch it.

The cause of the sinking is undetermined at this time. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage will investigate to determine the cause of the sinking.

This is a picture of the barge.

 The Aries Crew and Coast Guard Rescue Team
back on solid ground. Yea!!
The US Coast Guard Rocks! Awesome job once again!

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