Wayward tug runs into bulk carrier at Columbia River anchorage

A tugboat smashed into an anchored freighter in the Columbia River, damaging the ship's hull.

The tug Clarkston collided with the deep-draft cargo vessel Genco Marine at 0930 on April 7, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement. Genco Marine was anchored at mile-marker 102.5 on the Columbia River, north of the western tip of Hayden Island near Vancouver, Wash.

"The Genco Marine was sitting there minding her own business when a tug came along and whacked her," said Gerry Buchanan, president of Genco Shipping and Trading Ltd.

Visibility was 10 miles, with a 5-mph wind out of the northwest. The Coast Guard said Clarkston may have been damaged. Details were not available. As of late June, the Coast Guard was still investigating the incident. The Marine Safety Unit Portland, which is probing the cause, declined to provide any information.

Carol Bua, communications manager for Vancouver-based Tidewater, which owns Clarkston, said the company would not discuss the matter until it had completed its own internal investigation. Bua did not know when the investigation would be complete.

The 617-foot, 45,222-deadweight-ton, Hong Kong-flagged Genco Marine was built in 1996. Buchanan said he didn't recall the vessel's cargo at the time of the collision. He wouldn't discuss the specific damage, but categorized it as "minor."

"Repairs were nothing serious," he said. "Needless to say it was hull work. She continued to her scheduled destination in China, and the repairs were done there. She was scheduled for dry dock anyway, and she was repaired in dry dock."

The 149-ton Clarkston is 75 feet long. It was built in 1968 and purchased by Brix Maritime. It became the property of Foss Maritime when the company acquired Brix in 1993. Tidewater bought Clarkston from Foss in 2009. Tidewater is the largest river transport operator west of the Mississippi River, covering an area from Lewiston, Idaho, to the mouth of the Columbia River at Astoria, Ore.

By Professional Mariner Staff