Tug and barge run aground in Gulf of Alaska

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

(VALDEZ, Alaska) — Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit personnel responded Wednesday afternoon to a 77-foot integrated tug and barge grounded on the Gulf of Alaska coast, 60 miles southeast of Cordova, Alaska.

The owner of the 77-foot integrated tug and barge Hook Point-Alaganik, contracted Alaska Marine Response, LLC, to place boom, remove fuel from the vessel and prepare salvage plans. Heavy fog and the remote location of the grounding present challenges with access to the site. Alaska Marine Response, LLC, responders are awaiting a favorable weather window to deliver fuel removal and salvage equipment from Cordova. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Valdez personnel, in close coordination with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, continues to monitor the response.

The Hook Point-Alaganik, with two people on board, was working on a tsunami debris clean-up project on the Alaskan coast when they encountered heavy waves combined with strong currents and river ice from the mouth of the Seal River. River currents caused the vessel to swing broadside into the waves, lifting the vessel up and then down directly onto large pieces of river ice. The impact with the ice broke the mechanical system holding the tug and barge together and both were washed up onto the beach.

Both persons on board donned survival suits, abandoned ship and made it safely to the beach with assistance from a shoreside clean-up crew. No injuries have been reported.

“With the crew of the Hook Point-Alaganik safely ashore, our priority is the safety of responders and preserving the integrity of the marine environment in the Gulf of Alaska.” said Lt. Keyth Pankau, response department head, Marine Safety Unit Valdez. “MSU Valdez personnel will continue to monitor response efforts to ensure fuel removal and salvage of the integrated tug and barge are conducted safely and efficiently.”

The Coast Guard launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Cordova to conduct an overflight and deliver two Marine Safety Unit pollution investigation personnel to survey the site. Both the tug and barge sustained significant damage from the incident and remain on the beach. 

A slight sheen is reported in the vicinity of the barge, and sausage boom and sorbent pads are in place as a precautionary measure. At the time of the grounding, the Hook Point-Alaganik was carrying approximately 2,050 gallons of diesel fuel, 90 gallons of hydraulic oil and 30 gallons of gasoline on board. 

The stern of an integrated tug and barge unit is notched to accept a special tug which is rigidly connected to the barge, forming a single vessel. When in this configuration, directional stability and control underway is far superior to that of a towed barge. 

The Hook Point-Alaganik is homeported in Cordova, Alaska. 

By Professional Mariner Staff