island chief barge crash

U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Barge Crashes Into Home in Washington

Mike Schuler
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March 16, 2021

A barge under tow crashed into a private waterfront home in Gig Harbor, Washington on Monday. No injuries were reported.

Coast Sector Puget Sound was alerted to the incident by Pierce County dispatch. The unmanned gravel barge was under tow by the towing vessel Island Chief when it collided with several privately-owned docks and residences, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard reports that initial findings indicate that the Island Chief’s fell asleep while navigating the vessel.

The barge was not carrying cargo at the time of the incident and was pulled free by the tug under its own power. Fortunately, there were no injuries and the tug and barge returned to Seattle for further investigation and inspection, but neither are believed have suffered any significant damage.

The same can’t be said for at least one house. Damages are estimated to be greater than $250,000, but thankfully no injuries or pollution were reported.

island chief barge
MV Island Chief. Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Michael Curry

The Island Chief is a U.S.-flag pusher tug built in 1963 and features a raised pilothouse. It typically transports gravel in the Puget Sound area.  

The Investigating Officer has determined the accident to be a Serious Marine Incident and has confirmed that all personnel directly involved in the incident will be tested for drugs and alcohol.

“Incidents such as this are very concerning,” said Cmdr. Nathan Menefee, Chief of Prevention at Sector Puget Sound. “Fortunately, nobody was injured, and the towing vessel did not release fuel or oil into the water. Sector Puget Sound will investigate the incident to determine the cause and whether additional actions are necessary to prevent a similar incident in the future.”

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