Tug struck by its own fuel barge after hitting Columbia River dike

A petroleum barge overtook and struck its tugboat after the tug ran into a Columbia River pile dike.

The 3,800-hp tug Altair was towing the barge Deneb outbound on the Columbia River when the tug struck the pile dike near Eben H. Carruthers Memorial Park in Warrenton, Ore. Altair was traveling from Portland to Puget Sound when the accident happened at 0940 on Oct. 29, 2011.

After Altair struck the pile dike, the 320-foot Deneb overtook the tug and struck the boat, according to a U.S. Coast Guard press release.

The tug was moving at about 2 knots when it hit the dike, said Nathan Littlejohn, a Coast Guard spokesman. The weather was foggy with visibility of about 1 nm, he said.

The tide was ebbing at the time of the incident, said Coast Guard investigator Lt. Kimberly Rule of Coast Guard Sector Columbia River.

The port bow of Deneb struck the starboard quarter fender of Altair, causing minor damage to Altair, said Richard P. Falcinelli, executive vice president of K-Sea Transportation Partners, which owns the tow.

"There were no damages to Deneb, nor any cargo loss or injuries as a result of the accident," he said.

There was no pollution from the collision. "There was very little chance for pollution to reach the river in this case, thanks to the double bottoms in the Deneb and the relatively light impact of the allision," said Paul Thunberg, a Coast Guard senior marine inspector.

There was not much damage to the pile dike, Rule said. Pile dikes, also called wing dams, are wooden structures that extend perpendicular from the shore to protect the shore and manage the flow of the channel.

By Professional Mariner Staff