Crew evacuates as tug partially sinks near Calcasieu Locks

The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
(LAKE CHARLES, La.) — The Coast Guard continued Wednesday and Thursday its efforts in monitoring a salvage operation to raise a tug that is partially sunk on the on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GICW).

At 8:45 a.m. on Monday, January 28, 2008, the tug ACCU IV was traveling westbound on the GICW pushing ahead 6 barges when it started taking on water in its engine room and kitchen space directly east of the Calcasieu Locks at mile marker 236 on the GICW.  The ACCU IV’s crew of 4 persons was safely evacuated to a passing tug, the SARAH D.  The tug’s back end is currently resting on the bottom of the GICW in about sixteen feet of water on the south bank of the GICW.  There have been no reports of vessel traffic impediments on the GICW attributed to this tug sinking.

The Coast Guard has maintained a small boat on scene to ensure compliance with a safety zone established between mile markers 236 and 238 that directs passing vessel traffic to proceed at a slow pace.  Additionally, pollution investigators have been on scene due to the potential pollution threat posed by the approximately 4,000 gallons of diesel remaining in the ACCU IV’s fuel tanks. 

The tug’s owners hired T and T Marine Salvage, a marine salvage company based in Galveston, TX, to oversee the salvage efforts of raising the partially sunken tug.  Oil Mop Incorporated, a local oil cleanup company, was also contracted to provide an on scene containment and clean up capability for any potential pollution that may occur.  Representatives from the tug’s owners and the salvage company generated a Coast Guard approved salvage and site safety plan to direct the salvage operations for raising the tug.  Salvage operations commenced Thursday morning utilizing salvage equipment and supplies brought in to raise the ACCU IV and are scheduled to continue into Friday. 

The cause of this incident is still under investigation.  For more information on this event, please contact LT Robert Bilbo with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit Lake Charles at 337-491-7800.

By Professional Mariner Staff