Disabled tug taken into tow off Washington

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

(WARRENTON, Ore.) — The Coast Guard coordinated assistance for the disabled tug Mauna Loa, which became disabled and began to drift toward the Washington coast on Tuesday.

The 113-foot Mauna Loa along with its 320-foot barge were met by the crew of tug Lauren Foss, who took it into tow and is towing the disabled vessel to Port Angeles, Wash.

Watch standers at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River received the report from the master of the disabled tug stating that they suffered engine failure and were drifting toward the coast. Watch standers then coordinated with the owner of the tug who contracted with the tugs Lauren Foss, out of Neah Bay, and David Brusco, out of Cathlamet, to intercept Mauna Loa before it could drift aground.

Due to increasing currents, a Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor 47-foot motor lifeboat crew launched to act as emergency safety standby to pull the four crewmembers from Mauna Loa in the event the en route tugs were unable to arrive on scene before Mauna Loa ran aground.

Lauren Foss is the current emergency rescue towing vessel based out of Neah Bay, Wash. The ERTV is a state of Washington mandated program funded by fees levied on vessels calling on Puget Sound. This program was developed to provide a resource to ensure that vessels that became disabled offshore were able to be intercepted before they endangered ecologically sensitive shores. The ERTV is continually stationed in Neah Bay to respond to incidents just like this one. Depending on the circumstances of the deployment of the ERTV, another tug may backfill for the ERTV when it is deployed as it was in this case. The Marine Exchange of Puget Sound acts as the administrative agent for the ERTV program, however, the services of the ERTV, when needed, are arranged for directly with the dispatches at Foss Maritime.

“Thanks to programs like that of the ERTV and others administered by the Marine Exchange, the professionalism of our Coast Guard watch standers as well as clear and concise planning with all parties involved, we were able to get the crew of the Mauna Loa the assistance they needed,” said Laird Hail, director, Puget Sound Vessel Traffic Service, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound. “The ability to coordinate with our maritime community greatly helped negate a situation that could have resulted in injuries to the crewmembers aboard the disabled tug or possible harm to the environment.”

Weather on scene at the time of the incident was reported as 25 mph winds and 8-foot seas.

Mauna Loa is due to arrive in Port Angeles at 11 p.m. Wednesday.

By Professional Mariner Staff