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February 23, 2009

Efforts underway to free grounded tanker

Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Galveston, in conjunction with Texas General Land Office, United States Mineral Management Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, O'Brien's Response Management, Titan Salvage and the Marine Spill Response Corporation, are working to free the 800-foot tank ship Yasa Golden Dardanelles that was grounded Friday, Feb. 20, 2009 22 miles off the Galveston coast..

The Coast Guard has released a video in which Cmdr. James Elliot, commanding officer of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Galveston, explains lightering operations, which began Monday, Feb. 23, 2009.

The Yasa Golden Dardanelles was grounded on the north side of the Galveston safety fairway, which leads to the Houston Ship Channel. The tank ship was carrying 621,000 barrels of oil at the time of the grounding. The ship is not discharging oil or impeding other vessel traffic.

The 2008-built Marshall Islands flag ship is managed by Ya-Sa Tanker and Transportation of Istanbul, Turkey.

Two tugboats were on scene with the tank ship throughout the night of Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009. The tugboats attempted to free the tank ship, but were unsuccessful.

Lightering operations began Monday, Feb. 23, 2009.

Lightering is a process that reduces the tank ship's weight by transferring some of its cargo to another vessel. Coast Guard personnel, Titan Salvage, the ship's salvage team, and oil spill response organizations Marine Spill Response and O'Brien's Response Management, are creating a comprehensive lightering plan that will allow the transfer of the tank ship's cargo without causing pollution.

The lightering process entails transferring the grounded tank ship's cargo to another vessel, in an effort to refloat the Yasa Golden Dardanelles.

Coast Guard personnel are on board the Yasa Golden Dardanelles monitoring the transfer and inspecting the tank ship. A Marine Spill Corporation vessel is also onsite with pollution mitigation equipment. Crews are anticipated to offload 3.5 million gallons of the tank ship's cargo.

Once the tank ship refloats commercial divers will perform an underwater hull inspection. Naval engineers and inspectors will also examine the tank ship before it enters the port.


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