Maritime Casualty News, January 2020

Coast Guard crew rescued after small craft overturns

Four U.S. Coast Guardsmen were rescued from the Columbia River after their 26-foot vessel capsized near downtown Astoria, Ore., just before lunchtime on Jan. 4. Personnel aboard the pilot launch Connor Foss performed the rescue. 

The Coast Guard crew aboard the trailerable aids-to-navigation vessel were conducting routine operations when they encountered heavy wakes that came over the bow. The craft capsized after developing an “unrecoverable starboard list,” the service said.

The Coast Guard learned of the incident when four personal locator beacons registered to Navigation Team Astoria signaled at 1139 that morning.

“The beacons' positions correlated with multiple good Samaritans' reports of visual distress signals in the vicinity of Pier 39 in Astoria,” the Coast Guard said. “Correlating reports were also received by Astoria 911 dispatch.”

Mariners aboard the 63-foot Connor Foss recovered the four Guardsmen at 1209. The pilot boat carried the four servicemen to the 17th Street Pier in Astoria, where medical crews transported them to a hospital. All four were evaluated and released.

Dredge barge pushed aground after taking on water in Texas

A dredge barge taking on water in the Matagorda Ship Channel near Port Lavaca, Texas, was pushed into shallow water by a nearby tugboat, where the barge ran safely aground. 

Authorities learned the dredge barge Everett Fisher started flooding on the evening of Jan. 20 with four people on board. The tugboat Dana Robyn working nearby pushed the dredge aground and took its crew on board, the Coast Guard said. No injuries were reported.

Everett Fisher was refloated the following day, and crews laid containment boom during the successful salvage operation. The Coast Guard established a safety zone from mile marker 51 to 66 in the Matagorda Ship Channel during the response. 

It’s not clear why the dredge barge began taking on water, but the Coast Guard is investigating.

Three rescued from sinking tugboat off Bahamas

Three people were rescued from a tugboat taking on water near Andros Island in the Bahamas. 

According to the Coast Guard, helicopter crews from Air Station Clearwater (Fla.) hoisted three mariners from the tugboat Gulf Man on Jan. 9. 

An emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) triggered at about 1820 that night, alerting Coast Guard watch standers.

The helicopter crew brought the three uninjured men to Nassau, Bahamas. The Coast Guard credited the crew’s use of the EPIRB with attracting help in a timely manner.  

“Always properly prepare yourself with safety and communications equipment before taking to the sea,” said Lt. Andrew Connell, operations officer at Air Station Clearwater. “Flares, EPIRBs and VHF radios can be game-changers in the event of an emergency."

Additional details about the incident were not available.

Casualty flashback: January 1925

Not long after leaving New York on Jan. 1, 1925, for a scheduled run to Florida, the steamship Mohawk ran into a nor’easter off the New Jersey coast. Late that night, a fire started in an aft compartment.

The ship anchored near Brandywine Shoal Light in Delaware Bay by 0330 the next morning, and the Coast Guard cutter Kickapoo arrived minutes later. Several tugboats also responded to the ship’s distress call. 

By sunrise on Jan. 2, the fire had spread to passenger spaces on the 367-foot ship, which was carrying 208 passengers and 82 crew along with 68 vehicles. Capt. John Staples ordered the passengers to leave the burning ship, and the group disembarked onto Kickapoo and the tugs Kaleen and Mars. 

Some crew remained on Mohawk to fight the fire, but by 0900 it was clear the flames were out of control. Staples ordered the ship scuttled, and it later burned to the waterline. According to accounts from the time, one of the automobiles stowed below deck escaped the fire undamaged. Most of the ship’s remains sank a few weeks later. 

By Professional Mariner Staff