Tug adrift, crew rescued after towline fouls props off Maryland

(BALTIMORE) — The U.S. Coast Guard rescued seven people Saturday from a disabled and adrift tug towing a barge 30 miles offshore from Ocean City, Md.

A crewmember aboard the tug Legacy notified watch standers at Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday that while towing a 290-foot barge from New Jersey to Guyana, a 1,000-foot towing line became entangled and fouled their starboard propeller. The vessel continued to make way on one engine when the towline snapped. The crew attempted to regain tow of the barge, at which time the line became tangled in the port propeller, immobilizing the vessel.

The tug’s crewmember said Legacy was inoperable and that the crew was making preparations to abandon ship.

The disabled tug Legacy is shown 30 miles off Ocean City, Md., on Saturday. Legacy was towing a 290-foot barge from New Jersey to Guyana when the towline became entangled in the tug’s propellers. U.S. Coast Guard photo

The 154-foot Coast Guard cutter Lawrence Lawson, home-ported in Cape May, N.J., was already underway and diverted to the incident to help. Once on scene, the cutter’s crew was unable to get near the disabled tug or barge due to on-scene weather and concern that the loose towline beneath the water’s surface would foul the Coast Guard cutter’s propellers. Lawrence Lawson maintained station and provided assistance to responding units and ensured safety of the seven crewmembers.

Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capitol Region launched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., and an MH-60 Jayhawk crew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., to hoist the seven people from the vessel. After all were safely hoisted, the air crews transported them to Ocean City Municipal Airport in Maryland with no reported injuries.

The tug’s crew activated their emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), and the Coast Guard MH-60 deployed a self-locating data marker buoy (SLDMB) for Coast Guard watch standers to track the tug and barge while awaiting commercial salvage.

– U.S. Coast Guard

By Rich Miller