Tugboat partially sinks at Virginia mooring, leaks oil


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

(PORTSMOUTH, Va.) — A Coast Guard pollution response team is overseeing oil spill response activities Wednesday near a partially submerged tugboat on Skiffes Creek, north of Fort Eustis.

A passing tugboat captain contacted watch standers Saturday at Coast Guard Sector Hampton Road’s Command Center to report the moored, partially submerged 100-foot tugboat Bourne, which was discharging black oil.

The Coast Guard pollution response team and the Newport News Hazardous Materials Team responded to survey the scene and deploy boom Saturday night.

It is estimated that Bourne has a fuel capacity of approximately 21,000 gallons and discharged approximately 5 to 10 gallons of motor oil. The Coast Guard, the Newport News hazmat team and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management deployed sorbent pads and boom Saturday and Sunday. It is unknown how much fuel was on board when the tugboat submerged.

The Coast Guard was unable to contact the owner of the vessel. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund was opened to pay for response efforts.

An oil spill response organization has been contracted to conduct the cleanup operations, which will include removing the remaining oil in the tug's tanks.

The Coast Guard issued a safety marine information broadcast to encourage mariners to remain clear of the waterway near the site until operations have been completed.

“We will thoroughly monitor cleanup operations,” said Lt. j.g. Stasia Ellis, a marine environmental response chief at Sector Hampton Roads. “The Coast Guard’s main concern is ensuring minimal impact to the environment and maximum safety to the local boating community.”

By Professional Mariner Staff