The Coast Guard rescued seven people from a disabled tugboat Saturday as it and its barge tow drifted 30 miles off Ocean City, Md.

The 103’x30’ tub Legacy was underway from the Dorchester Shipyard on Delaware Bay in New Jersey to Guyana, towing a 290’ foot barge, when a 1,000’ tow line became entangled and fouled the tug’s starboard propeller, according to a Coast Guard report.

Built in 1981, the Legacy sails under the flag of St. Kitts-Nevis. The vessel continued to make way on one engine until the tow line snapped. The crew attempted to regain tow of the barge, but the line became entangled in the port propeller, immobilizing the tug, according to the Coast Guard.

At 3:30 a.m. a crew member notified watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region that the Legacy was crippled and that the crew was preparing to abandon ship.

The Coast Guard cutter Lawrence Lawson, a 154’ fast response cutter homeported in Cape May, N.J., was already underway and diverted to the incident to help. Once on scene, the cutter’s crew was unable to get near the disabled tug or barge due to weather and concern that the loose tow line beneath the water’s surface would foul the cutter’s propellers. The Lawson maintained station and provided critical assistance to responding units and ensured safety of the seven crew members. 

Coast Guard watchstanders launched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., and an MH-60 Jayhawk crew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., to hoist crew members from the vessel. After all seven people were safely hoisted, the air crews transported them to Ocean City Municipal Airport in Maryland with no reported injuries.

The tug’s crew activated their emergency position indicating radio beacon, and the Coast Guard MH-60 deployed a self-locating data marker buoy (SLDMB) for Coast Guard watchstanders to track the tug and barge while awaiting commercial salvage.

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