Maritime Casualty News, November 2019

Tugboat capsizes during severe storm on Outer Banks

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating after a tugboat capsized in Oregon Inlet, N.C., during a severe storm. An unknown amount of fuel spilled from the vessel. 

The pushboat Miss Bonnie rolled over and partially sank near the Old Bonner Bridge on Nov. 19 at 1109. Authorities initially believed the vessel hit the bridge, although subsequent investigation showed the boat never made contact with a support pillar, the Coast Guard said. The eight people aboard the vessel escaped without injury.

Sheening was reported following the incident, and the Coast Guard said response crews deployed 2,500 feet of sorbent boom and another 1,600 feet of containment boom. The Coast Guard said the vessel had 3,000 gallons of fuel on board, and less than that amount spilled.

The Coast Guard oversaw salvage operations to dewater and raise the tug on Nov. 21. PCL Construction, a contractor working on a nearby bridge project, operates Miss Bonnie. The company has not responded to a request for comment.

Container barge breaches after grounding in BC

The cargo barge Nana Provider ran aground and sustained a hull breach near Vancouver Island, British Columbia, while en route from Seattle to Whittier, Alaska.

The barge, towed by the U.S.-flagged Polar King at the time, hit bottom on Nov. 9 at about 2000 off the Quadra Island community of Yaculta. The tugboat did not ground and no pollution was reported. All six crewmembers were unhurt.

Crews discovered the hull breach while trying to raise the barge on Nov. 10. It was successfully raised Nov. 14 and towed to Campbell River.

Alaska Marine Lines owns Nana Provider, a 420-by-100-foot barge outfitted for containerized cargo, rail cars and other freight. Its listed capacity is 950 TEU. Dunlap Towing operates the 4,800-hp Polar King.

Canadian authorities are investigating the incident, and the cause of the grounding has not been released.

Barge explodes near Chicago while venting acetone

Firefighters near Chicago extinguished a fire aboard a tank barge that exploded while venting acetone, according to local news reports.

The unidentified barge caught fire at about 0930 on Nov. 4 while moored in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in Lemont, Ill., southwest of Lake Michigan, the Chicago Tribune reported. At least one explosion was reported after the fire started.

Fire crews from Lemont quickly got the fire under control, but not before it caused extensive damage to the barge. No injuries were reported. The Coast Guard is investigating the incident but hasn’t released a cause.

Casualty flashback: November 1920

The steamship Santa Rita left Tacoma, Wash., for San Francisco on Nov. 24, 1920, with the schooner barge W.J. Pirrie in tow. The barge never made it. All but two of its estimated 20 crew perished when the vessel was driven into a reef in a heavy storm.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Santa Rita cast off the towline after encountering the storm off Cape Flattery in far northwestern Washington. W.J. Pirrie's crew raised the vessel’s sails, but they proved no match for the 85-mph winds that drove the barge into a reef near Cake Rock, a rocky outcrop off Quillayute, Wash.

“Before lifeboats could be launched, heavy seas washed over the decks, carrying off the crew, the captain, his wife and small child,” NOAA wrote in its account of the sinking. “Only two crewmembers survived the wreck. They swam to shore near Cape Johnson, where they wandered about without food or dry clothing until they were found by Quileute searchers who helped them to safety in La Push.”

Responders located the remains of 18 people, including the captain and his family. They were buried in a single grave north of La Push.

By Professional Mariner Staff