A U.S. Coast Guard aircrew from Sitka, Alaska rescued five crew members from a tugboat Thursday after running aground in the Sumner Strait in southeast Alaska.
The aircrew hoisted the five people from a barge attached to the 102-foot tug Ocean Eagle and transported them to Sitka after the tug began taking on water Wednesday night.
The Coast Guard says it received a report at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday from the crew of the Ocean Eagle that the tug and barge had run aground on Mariposa Reef on the south side of Strait Island and was taking on water in the engine room. At about 3:15 a.m. Thursday, the tug and the barge had refloated and drifted to Alvin Cove.
The crew of the Ocean Eagle reported the tug is carrying a total of 58,000 gallons of diesel fuel divided among several tanks. The barge is carrying mixed dry cargo and 52,000 gallons of diesel.
The Coast Guard reported Thursday that any discharge of product was unknown. The Coast Guard is in consultation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on oil trajectory calculations.
The Coast Guard Cutters Maple and Liberty arrived on scene with pollution response equipment.
Commercial tugs contracted by the Ocean Eagle’s owner are on scene to dewater, effect repairs and mitigate potential pollution.
“The aircrew faced harsh weather conditions early Thursday morning when they saved five crew members off the barge,” said Cmdr. Gina Freeman, search and rescue mission coordinator for Sector Juneau. “Fortunately, there was no loss of life. Today, Coast Guard Sector Juneau and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation continue to work with the tug’s owner to remove the tug and barge and minimize any pollution to the environment.”
Weather on scene was 34-mph winds with 6-foot seas and 11.5 miles of visibility.
Video of the rescue is below: