Puerto Rico pushboat takes on water and sinks, crew rescued

Two men were rescued from a pushboat just before it sank near San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The pushboat Salvage was assisting the tugboat Handy One, which was towing a construction barge from San Juan to Culebra Island on Feb. 11, according to Ricardo Castrodad, spokesman for U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan.

During the voyage, Salvage began taking on water and started to sink in the Atlantic Ocean about 3 nm northwest of Point Picua. Seas were between 4 and 6 feet.

The crew of Handy One reported the incident to Sector San Juan at about 1350 and rescued the two crewmembers aboard Salvage before the pushboat quickly sank in 120-foot waters. The vessel had already gone down before the Coast Guard arrived. The Coast Guard is investigating the casualty.

The Del Valle Group, of Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, operates both vessels. José Ocasio, an executive assistant at Del Valle Group, said he could not comment on the incident.

A Sea Tow vessel met Handy One and picked up the crewmembers of Salvage, transporting them to Villa Marina in Fajardo, according to Castrodad. Coast Guard marine investigators met the crew of Salvage at Villa Marina.

The Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark responded to the call from Handy One to look for debris or any wreckage. A MH-65 dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico, carrying a pollution investigator, reported spotting fuel sheen of about 1 nm. Salvage was carrying an estimated 160 gallons of diesel fuel, but none of it reached the shoreline, according to Castrodad.

By Professional Mariner Staff