Tugboat and its barge get stuck along beach, jetty near Atlantic City


An oceangoing tugboat towing a crane barge lost power and the vessels grounded several hundred yards apart near Atlantic City, N.J. 

The 3,600-hp Miss Katie was pulling the 135-foot Derrick Barge No. 64 when the tug sustained the mechanical problem at about 0400 on Feb. 20. Miss Katie grounded on a sandy beach north of the Absecon Inlet, which separates Brigantine and Atlantic City, while the barge drifted onto the inlet’s North Jetty. 

Nobody was hurt and there was no environmental impact from the accident, although the barge’s hull was damaged in several places from running onto the jetty.

A Coast Guard photo caption stated that towlines fouled the tug’s propellers. A Coast Guard spokesman declined to confirm that later. 

“The investigation is still pending; unfortunately we cannot comment at this time,” Lt. Nick Woessner, a spokesman for Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay, said in an email. 

The vessels were traveling south to Egg Harbor, N.J., at the time of the grounding, the Coast Guard said. Weather data was not available along that section of the Jersey shore and Woessner would not provide that information from the incident report. 

Marquette Transportation Co. operates the 86-foot Miss Katie, and Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. operates the barge. Marquette Vice President Tim Dietz did not respond to requests for comment about the incident. 

Fire officials from the Brigantine Fire Department did not return phone calls or emails seeking information about the accident. 

Salvage efforts were initially scheduled to begin the day of the grounding, but the Coast Guard said they were delayed due to bad weather. Northstar Marine of Clermont, N.J., performed the salvage starting on Feb. 21.

“The tug was on the beach, just north of the inlet jetty on Brigantine Beach,” said Phil Risko, owner of Northstar Marine. “The barge was laying along the rocks on the south side of the jetty still connected by the tow cable.”

Crews removed 15,000 gallons of fuel from the tug and refloated it at high tide with help from another tugboat, which pulled it off the beach, Risko said. 

The port side of the barge was “heavily damaged” from smashing against rocks around the jetty. Salvage crews injected air into the compartments to allow the vessel to level off. They were able to refloat the barge at about 1500 on Feb. 21 with help from the incoming tide. 

The tugboat passed inspection and was allowed to sail back to its homeport in Galliano, La., several days later, Risko said. The barge was subsequently towed to nearby Dorchester Shipyard for repairs.

By Professional Mariner Staff