Explosives-laden barge refloated after grounding in Rosario Strait

munitionsbargemicroA container barge carrying thousands of pounds of Navy munitions was refloated today after it ran aground five miles southwest of Anacortes, Wash., in the Rosario Strait, on Monday.

The mishap occurred about 5:20 a.m. when the 322-foot barge St. Elias, being towed by the 101-foot tugboat Henry Brusco, ran aground on Belle Rock.

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The hull of the St. Elias, was inspected by contracted divers from Global Diving & Salvage, who located a 10-foot by 10-foot hole in the forward starboard hold. The hole had a minor effect on stability of the vessel and draft readings indicated an insignificant change to the barge's trim.

The barge is carrying thousands of pounds of explosives. The cargo remained stable throughout the incident. The Department of Ecology confirmed that a fuel tank on the barge's deck had been emptied and contained only residual fuel.

Sector Puget Sound received a towing plan from Foss Maritime, who is in close coordination with the barge's owner, Samson Tug & Barge, based in Sitka, Alaska. After thorough review, the plan was approved. The tug Delta Lindsey took the St. Elias in side tow to Indian Island, with the undamaged stern forward. The tug Henry Brusco assisted with the tow escort, along with the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Swordfish, from Port Angeles, Wash.

St. Elias is currently moored at Indian Island.

October 11, 2011

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