A bulk carrier that lost power more than 100 miles offshore was safely towed past busy shipping lanes into the port of New York and New Jersey over the weekend, Coast Guard officials said.
The 611’, 55,848-dwt bulker GDF Suez North Sea lost propulsion on Aug. 21, and at 9 p.m. watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New York got the report that the Panama-flagged vessel with 21 crew and cement cargo aboard was disabled.
Over the next two days the crew attempted repairs as the Coast Guard monitored the situation. But by Thursday night it was apparent propulsion could not be restored, and the Coast Guard began coordinating an offshore salvage operation.
An HC-144A Ocean Sentry aircraft launched from Air Station Cape Cod arrived on scene around 10:45 a.m. Friday, establishing communications with the vessel and assessing its condition.
Vessel owners GDF Suez hired Donjon Marine Co., Inc., Hillside, N.J., to dispatch its 151.1’x40’x20.5’, 6,480-hp anchor-handling tug Atlantic Salvor to rendezvous with the vessel and establish a tow.
The Atlantic Salvor began towing operations towards New York around 12:30 p.m. Friday as personnel at the Coast Guard sector closely monitored the transit through busy offshore separation lanes.
As the tow arrived at the Ambrose Channel harbor entrance, the Coast Guard directed the use of at least three tugs to tow the disabled vessel into New York Harbor and to its berth at Port Newark, N.J.
On Sunday the Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service coordinated and managed a complex tow by three tugs from Moran Towing Company, New Canaan, Conn., through New York Harbor. Coast Guard boat crews from Station New York provided a safety escort.
“There is nothing routine about taking a loaded freighter under tow offshore and bringing her safely into port,” Capt. Jason Tama, commander of Coast Guard Sector New York, said in a statement about the operation. “This was a successful team effort involving a number of port partners and commercial salvage assets from the Port of New York and New Jersey. We are grateful to all involved for their professionalism and duty to protect the crew, the vessel, and the port.”
The Coast Guard is investigating how the ship lost propulsion.