GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - An oil tanker remained grounded Saturday off the Texas coast in the Gulf of Mexico, but no fuel had spilled from it, officials said.
The U.S. Coast Guard, other federal and state agencies and a salvage company have been planning a strategy for freeing the 800-foot vessel, the Yasa Golden Dardanelles. It's carrying 620,000 barrels of low sulfur fuel oil, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Renee Aiello.
"This is something we prepare for," she said. "Fortunately, events like this are not frequent. But we are the Coast Guard, and we are prepared for this type of event."
A Coast Guard helicopter flew over the ship and saw no evidence of pollution, Aiello said.
The tanker was built by Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. in Japan and delivered last spring to Yasa Tanker and Transportation S.A. of Istanbul, Turkey, according to a news release issued by Mitsui at the time. It flies under the flag of the Marshall Islands.
A woman who answered the phone at the Turkish company Saturday said nobody was available to discuss the matter.
The tanker ran aground 22 miles off the coast in sand sometime Friday while waiting for a pilot to guide it into the Houston Ship Channel. The ship ran aground on the north side of the Galveston Safety Fairway, an area that leads to the ship channel, Aiello said.
Coast Guard officials are hopeful that high tide, due to occur between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. could help in refloating the ship.
While plans are being made to remove the ship, the Coast Guard is continuing to observe it, she said.
"Right now, we're keeping a close eye on the situation," she said.
A spokesman for Titan Salvage confirmed that the company is involved in the operation.
Oil tanker freed off Galveston after cargo transfer
By MIKE GLENN Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
Feb. 24, 2009, 9:00AM
Divers are set to begin inspecting the hull of a tanker that had been grounded in the Gulf of Mexico before being freed early today after the transfer of more than 80,000 barrels of fuel oil to another vessel, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.
The Yasa Golden Dardanelles ran aground Friday about 22 miles off the coast of Galveston while awaiting a pilot to guide the ship into the Houston Ship Channel.
The Marshall Islands-flagged vessel, with 26 crew members aboard, was carrying more than 620,000 barrels when it grounded. None of the cargo leaked into the water after the accident, Coast Guard officials said, and the stranded ship did not block traffic.
The transfer process, called lightering, was delayed until Monday because of bad weather, they said.
There were no reports of any injuries from the grounding or the fuel transfer to the other vessel, the SPT Crusader, which had been brought alongside, Coast Guard officials said.
In addition to divers, naval engineers and inspectors will examine the ship, the Coast Guard said.