Barge carrying Navy torpedo shell casings, dry goods runs aground near Port Canaveral

The U.S. Coast Guard said heavy weather and rough seas likely were factors when a barge under contract with the U.S. Navy broke loose from a tugboat and ran aground near Port Canaveral in Florida.

Mobro 1210, a 144-foot cargo barge owned and operated by Beyel Brothers Crane and Rigging Services, of Cocoa, Fla., separated from the tugboat Megan Beyel at around 0140 on Nov. 29, 2010, near the entrance to Port Canaveral. The barge landed on a beach, within site of a large condominium development.

“It was really nasty surf and really windy that day,” Christopher Evanson, a Coast Guard spokesman, said in December, emphasizing that the investigation was still open. “The conclusion so far is that it was due to heavy weather.”

Mobro broke free roughly a quarter-mile from jetties marking the entrance to Port Canaveral, Evanson said. Winds were estimated at 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. A weather buoy located offshore from Cape Canaveral recorded 4-foot seas shortly before the incident.

Both vessels were chartered through the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC), and are classified as down range support ships.

Mobro was carrying torpedo shell casings and household goods when it broke free. It was the only vessel being pulled by Megan Beyel, a 1,500 hp, 115-foot tugboat built in 1979. The Coast Guard said there were no reports of pollution related to the grounding, and that the torpedo parts were non-explosive.

“They were shell casings of already expended torpedo munitions. The rest of the cargo was a lot of personal and Navy cargo coming back from overseas,” Evanson said.

Citing the ongoing investigation, Evanson declined to comment further on possible causes. He declined to say if either vessel was damaged and referred questions about the ship’s cargo, including its origin and final destination, to Beyel Bros.

“This question is best answered by owner of the barge. They are under contract with various entities to move cargo and movement of that cargo may be classified information or sensitive security information,” Evanson said.

Attempts to reach Joseph Beyel, president of Beyel Bros., were unsuccessful. A receptionist said the company did not want to comment.

In the past year, Mobro and Megan Beyel have made multiple round-trips between Port Canaveral and the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center, located on Andros Island, Bahamas, according to the MSC. Laura Seal, a spokeswoman with the MSC, said the agency is conducting its own investigation into the grounding. She declined to comment on the incident until the agency’s investigation was complete.

Mobro was refloated at about 1400 on Nov. 29.

Casey Conley

By Professional Mariner Staff