Samson tug sinks at pier in Sitka

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

(JUNEAU, Alaska) — Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Sitka and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation personnel are responding to a tug that sank at the Samson Tug and Barge Co. pier on Wednesday night in Sitka.

Samson Tug and Barge Co. has contracted the Southeast Alaska Petroleum Response Organization for oil recovery and Hanson Maritime to dive
and survey the tug. Samson Tug and Barge Co. is developing a salvage plan. 

The sunken tug, Powhatan, is an 81-foot vessel owned by Samson Tug and Barge Co. that had been out of service for over 10 years. The tug's total
fuel capacity is 20,000 gallons. Samson Tug and Barge Co. reported only the forward fuel tank had been in use recently with a maximum capacity of
2,500 gallons and the other fuel tanks had previously been drained.

The vessel sank at the pier on Wednesday evening and subsequently slid under the pier approximately 200 yards along an underwater ledge. Some residual diesel fuel and oil is leaking from the sunken vessel. SEAPRO has placed boom around the vessel to contain the leak. The cause of the sinking is still under investigation. 

"Our top priority is to protect public health, safety, and limit environmental impact as we work with the contracted companies to contain and clean up the spill," said Petty Officer 1st Class Ken Farah, federal on-scene coordinator representative for the incident. "The Coast Guard and Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation are working together to guarantee an aggressive and effective response."

Weather on scene is partly cloudy, air temperature 56 degrees, east winds at 11 mph and 2-foot seas. 

By Professional Mariner Staff