ATB oil barge disconnects from tug off British Columbia


(BELLA BELLA, British Columbia) — A barge carrying more than 900,000 gallons of diesel fuel that broke free from its tugboat Sunday in heavy seas has been taken under tow off the coast of British Columbia, CBC News reported.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Victoria (JRCC) said Zidell Marine 277 disconnected from Jake Shearer, the tug in the articulated tug-barge (ATB) unit, at about 1545 local time about one mile from Goose Island and 28 miles from Bella Bella. Crewmembers anchored the barge after it broke free.

The captain in charge of the retrieval operation, Capt. Rich Softye, said large waves hit the port side of the barge, decoupling the pins that connect it to the tug. He said the stormy conditions made it impossible to reconnect the barge to the tug, so a commercial seagoing vessel was called.

"This was not a stranding. This was a decoupling of a barge. We now consider everything to be safe," said the Harley Marine official.

The barge was anchored overnight before Gulf Cajun, a commercial tug, arrived to tow it. No pollution was reported.

Last fall, the ATB tug Nathan E. Stewart ran aground near Bella Bella and spilled as much as 29,000 gallons of diesel into the ocean.

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By Professional Mariner Staff