The Phyllis Dunlap is owned and operated by Dunlap Towing of Washington. Image: Dunlap Towing

Coast Guardsmen from several Honolulu-based units responded to a vessel on fire approximately 69 miles northwest of Maui on Wednesday evening.

A mayday call from the commercial tug Phyllis Dunlap was picked up by a Coast Guard command center in Honolulu at approximately 2 p.m. Wednesday. During a transit from Seattle to Honolulu, an engineer aboard reported hearing a fire alarm. It was reported the tug experienced a disabling engine room fire that resulted in a complete loss of propulsion. The captain activated the engine room’s fixed fire suppression system, which is believed to have extinguished the fire, at 2:30 p.m. All six crewmembers are reportedly safe and accounted for with no medical concerns.

Coast Guard launched a HC-130 Hercules airplane and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter to assist while the Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island was also diverted to the scene. A nearby vessel, the Mahi Mahi, was also requested to assist with the response.

After assessing the damage, the crew of the Phyllis Dunlap was advised to stay aboard their vessel. A Sause Brothers assist tug, Kokua, arrived and established a tow at 10:15 p.m. The Phyllis Dunlap crew is scheduled to arrive in Honolulu between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Friday.

The Phyllis Dunlap crew was towing a barge, the Westward Trader, at the time of the fire, which then collided with the tug when its engines were disabled. Damage to both tug and barge was superficial, the Coast Guard says.

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