March 4, 2007
Bulker refloating effort begins
Responders with the Unified Command launched operations to transfer coal from a 75,592 dwt Liberian-flag bulk carrier to a barge along side it at about 3 p.m. today in the Chesapeake Bay.
The 712-foot, 2002-built bulker ship Montrose, carrying 74,215 metric tons of coal, ran aground Wednesday near Sharps Island, Md.
The ship is owned by Bentonwood BV and managed by Seaarland Shipping Mgmt BV of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The Unified Command consists of the Coast Guard, ECM Maritime Services, Resolve Marine Group, Maryland Natural Resources Police, Motia, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of the Environment.
A crane operator has transferring approximately seven tons of coal with each load. Experts estimated the operation to take 36 hours to remove the amount of coal needed to re-float the ship.
The next phase of the operation will remove the barges as responders attempt to re-float the ship. Once afloat, the ship will be taken to safe anchorage for inspection.
The Coast Guard Cutter Cochito, home ported in Portsmouth, Va., is currently enforcing a 500-yard safety zone for the ship. The Coast Guard Cutter Capstan, home ported in Philadelphia is scheduled to relieve the Cochito at midnight.
There have been no reports of pollution or injuries. However, the transfer of coal will generate dust in the air and may cause discoloration in the water.
"Coal is ugly, and it will discolor the water, however the effect it has on the environment is very minimal," said Alan Williams, on-scene coordinator for the State of Maryland.