The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:
(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) — Coast Guard crews are responding to a second grounded barge near Longboat Key, Fla., from a tugboat that was beset by heavy weather Tuesday.
Due to deteriorating weather, the barge spuds were unable to keep the 140-foot barge from drifting to the beach. Coast Guard incident management personnel from Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., are on scene overseeing the operation. No pollution has been reported.
"We were monitoring the barge throughout the night," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Garza, member of sector's incident management department. "It was anchored about one-half mile from shore. We were prepared for the possibility it could start drifting and as soon as it did, we deployed our emergency responders to assess the situation."
This is the second barge grounding in 24 hours. Sector IMD personel responded to a 180-foot barge that ran aground on Anna Maria Island after breaking free from a tugboat early Tuesday morning.
Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector St. Petersburg received notification at 2 a.m. Tuesday that the operator of tug Abe H was having difficulty steering due to weather and was unable to control the two barges he was pushing approximately one mile west off of Longboat Key.
Watchstanders launched Coast Guard Cutter Hawk, an 87-foot coastal patrol boat homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla., and a 45-foot response boat-medium boat crew from Station Cortez to assist. Command posts were established on Anna Maria Island and at Sector St. Petersburg.
The operator told watchstanders that he was able to anchor one barge; however, while attempting to gain control of the other, the line parted and the barge began drifting until it grounded on the beach at Anna Maria Island.