Grounded Columbia River bulker has 'significant damage' (UPDATE)

450x300 Q95

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

(WARRENTON, Ore.) — A damage assessment of the motor vessel Sparna, showing significant damage to the ship, was submitted to the Coast Guard by Ballard Marine Construction early Tuesday morning.

The damage assessment, shared with both Washington and Oregon state responders, showed multiple fractures were found, the largest being a 25-foot-long by 5-foot-wide fracture with a visible boulder lodged inside. Damage to Sparna was contained to two flooded compartments.

The Coast Guard, alongside state pollution responders and a contracted oil spill response organization, continue to monitor M/V Sparna. There still have been no signs of oil or fuel spilled during the incident.

A unified command under the supervision of the captain of the port intends to move the vessel upriver to the Port of Longview on Wednesday morning, as conditions permit.

“The cooperation between federal and state representatives continues to ensure the safety of the environment and the safety of the crew aboard the motor vessel Sparna,” said Capt. Dan Travers, commander Coast Guard Sector Columbia River. "Although there has been no pollution aspect to this point, we have prepared and have people in place to respond to the worst-case scenario.”

A Coast Guard overflight Monday confirmed no pollution. Another overflight is scheduled for Wednesday.

Two tugboats — PJ Brix and Pacific Escort — remain on scene with Sparna to help maintain its position. The Columbia River waterway remains open to all traffic, but the captain of the port may need to limit deep-draft commercial traffic once Sparna begins its transit upriver for repair.

Sparna is fully loaded with grain in its cargo holds, and is carrying 218,380 gallons of high sulfur fuel and 39,380 gallons of marine diesel.


(WARRENTON, Ore.) — The Coast Guard is closely monitoring a grounded vessel in the main shipping channel of the Columbia River after the 623-foot bulk carrier Sparna reportedly went aground at 12:16 a.m. in a narrow part of the river near Cathlamet, Wash.

Coast Guard pollution responders established a unified command incident management structure with Washington Department of Ecology and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality personnel, and alerted federal, state and county agency partners, additionally, there is a scheduled first light Coast Guard helicopter survey of the vessel and the area.

“The positive news so far is that responders have not observed any oil in the water,” said Capt. Dan Travers, Coast Guard captain of the port for the Columbia River. “The vessel quickly activated its plan and all federal, state, and county responders mobilized immediately. This is a joint effort with both states and hopefully will just turn out to have been an exercise in mobilizing pollution response resources.”

Sparna is fully loaded with grain and was out-bound, or heading west, in the Columbia River with a river pilot still onboard when it ran into trouble. The cause of the incident is under investigation. Sparna immediately activated its vessel response plan, required of all large vessels transiting the Columbia River for pollution contingencies.

Under the vessel’s response plan, the Maritime Fire & Safety Association and Clean Rivers Cooperative deployed response vessels, boom and personnel. Incident Management Division responders from Coast Guard Sector Columbia River met Clean Rivers personnel in Cathlamet for a seamless, coordinated response.

Sparna is laden with 218,380 gallons of high sulfur fuel and 39,380 gallons of marine diesel. Two tugboats – PJ Brix and Pacific Escort – are on scene to keep Sparna stabilized. The Coast Guard has not closed the navigable channel of the river.

By Professional Mariner Staff