Tugboat sinks, barge grounds near Long Island after towline parts


The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating how a towline parted, leading to a barge running aground on the South Shore of Long Island and the tugboat sinking.

The 26-foot tugboat Pushy was towing the 125-foot barge Weeks 236 from the Robert Moses Causeway Bridge on Jan. 13, said Lt. Cmdr. Bill Grossman, chief of the Investigations Division for Coast Guard Sector New York. The vessels, owned and operated by Weeks Marine of Cranford, N.J., had been used in a painting and renovation project.

The tug and barge, carrying generators, a lift and painting equipment, got underway at 1130. They exited Fire Island Inlet and headed west on their way to their base in Staten Island. At 1930 the towline broke. There was a 10-foot swell at the time.

“The tug attempted to regain control of the barge, but was unsuccessful and the barge subsequently grounded in Atlantic Beach” at Silver Point County Park, Grossman said.

Personnel from the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Detachment from Coram, Long Island, responded to oversee removal of the barge from the beach. One person was lifted from the barge by a New York Police Department helicopter.

A nearby towing vessel, Susan Miller, owned by Miller’s Launch, rescued three people from the tug.

The Coast Guard is investigating why the tug sank. Grossman said Pushy never lost power. “From all statements that we’ve been given, the vessel was operating as it should,” he said.

“There was some minor fuel leaking,” he said. The owner contracted for divers who went down 35 feet to the tug and plugged the fuel tank vents.

Weeks Marine refloated the barge four days after repairing minor damage. The company did not respond to a call for comment.

The owner was still working on salvage of the tug, Grossman said.

By Professional Mariner Staff