Coast Guard rescues crew after tug grounds in southeast Alaska

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(JUNEAU, Alaska) — Commercial tugs were towing the tug Ocean Eagle to Ketchikan for repairs on Sunday, following its grounding at Mariposa Reef in Sumner Strait on Thursday.

Ocean Eagle's barge was towed to Sitka where a marine Inspector is conducting additional damage assessments before the barge continues its planned voyage.

Brusco Tug & Barge, the owner of Ocean Eagle, contracted Alaska Commercial Divers to conduct underwater hull surveys of both the tug and barge in Alvin Cove after the grounding. Temporary repairs were made by the divers to cracks in the tug's hull. Minor damage was noted on the barge. Transit plans for both vessels were submitted and approved by the federal on scene coordinator from Coast Guard Sector Juneau and the state on-scene coordinator from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Minor oil sheening was observed upon the initial grounding. No additional pollution has been reported.

"The plans for towing the tug to Ketchikan and the barge to Sitka were thoroughly reviewed," said Capt. Shannan Greene, federal on-scene coordinator, Sector Juneau. "Appropriate measures are in place to keep all vessels involved safe and protect the environment. I appreciate the cooperation and responsiveness of the tug's owner."

Weather on scene is 20-knot winds from the north, 4-foot seas, and 10 miles of visibility.


(JUNEAU, Alaska) — A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60T Jayhawk crew rescued five people aboard a tug that ran aground on the Mariposa Reef on the south side of Strait Island in Sumner Strait on Thursday.

The air crew hoisted the five people from a barge attached to the 102-foot tug Ocean Eagle and transported them to Sitka after the tug began taking on water Wednesday night.

Watch standers at Coast Guard Sector Juneau received a report at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday from the crew of Ocean Eagle that the tug and barge ran aground on Mariposa Reef and the tug began taking on water in the engine room. The crew of Ocean Eagle reported the tug is carrying 58,000 gallons of diesel fuel divided among several tanks. The barge is carrying mixed dry cargo and 52,000 gallons of diesel. Any discharge of product is unknown, and Sector Juneau is in consultation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for oil trajectory calculations.

Ocean Eagle and barge refloated and drifted to Alvin Cove at approximately 3 a.m. The crew of the Coast Guard xutter Liberty arrived on scene at approximately 7:30 a.m. with pollution response equipment. The crew of the Coast Guard xutter Maple arrived shortly thereafter. Both Coast Guard cutters remain on scene assessing the situation, looking for signs of pollution and verifying nearby aids to navigation. Commercial tugs contracted by Ocean Eagle's owner are on scene to dewater, effect repairs and mitigate potential pollution.

"The air crew faced harsh weather conditions early Thursday morning when they saved five crewmembers off the barge," said Cmdr. Gina Freeman, search and rescue mission coordinator for Sector Juneau. "Fortunately, there was no loss of life. Today, Coast Guard Sector Juneau and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation continue to work with the tug's owner to remove the tug and barge and minimize any pollution to the environment."

Weather on scene was 34-mph winds with 6-foot seas and 11.5 miles of visibility.

By Professional Mariner Staff