UPDATE (2 JULY): The Coast Guard is enforcing a 500 foot safety zone around the sunken USACE tug, Hammond Bay, which sank Monday morning in the St. Mary’s River. The tug rests in 37 feet of water with 27 feet of overhead clearance near lighted buoy 35. The Coast Guard says the sunken tug is not impacting maritime traffic along the river.
(JULY 1) SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — The U.S. Coast Guard responded Monday morning to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tug that sank in the upper St. Marys River in Michigan.
The Coast Guard says that at 3:30 a.m. a search-and-rescue controller in Sault Ste. Marie was contacted by the crew of the tug Bill Maier, reporting that they were towing three barges and the tug Hammond Bay when the crew lost sight of the Hammond Bay.
After securing the barges, the crew of the Bill Maier attempted to locate the lost tug, but found only an oil sheen and a life ring. Upon closer inspection, the Bill Maier crew found the sunken tug in the middle of the St. Marys River under 27 feet of water.
There was no one aboard the tug Hammond Bay at the time it became lost.
The tugs Bill Maier and Hammond Bay are owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Coast Guard responded to the incident with a boatcrew and pollution responder aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small, from Coast Guard Station Sault Ste. Marie, and an aircrew aboard an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., which is conducting aerial assessments.
The Coast Guard has established a safety zone around the sunken tug, and all boating traffic is being directed to stay clear of this area.
The Army Corps reports that the Hammond Bay has 200 gallons of diesel fuel and 15 gallons of oil aboard.
The Coast Guard is working with the Army Corps and other partners to minimize any environmental damage and impact to waterways that the sunken tug may present. They are also working on a way to remove the tug.