When a tugboat pushing nine barges carrying stone lost steering in the Hudson River Wednesday afternoon, a Corps of Engineers crew came to the rescue.

The 86’6"x30’x9’6", 3,000-hp Buchanan 12 was pushing the barges near the Lincoln Tunnel when it lost steering around 1 p.m. The crew from Buchanan Marine, New Haven, Conn., reported the problem to Coast Guard watchstanders at the Coast Guard New York Vessel Traffic Service.

Corps of Engineers drift collection vessel Hayward. ACE photo.

The Corps of Engineers drift collection vessel Hayward. ACE photo.

The Coast Guard Sector New York command center issued a safety information broadcast and began coordinating a response. The Hayward, a 121.3’x39.3’ drift collection vessel operated by the Corps of Engineers for harbor cleanup, was nearby and the first to reach the scene, Coast Guard officials said.

The Hayward was able to keep the tug and barges out of shoal water on the New Jersey side of the river, as the Coast Guard, the New York City police harbor division and the New Jersey Regional Fireboat Task Force all sent vessels to respond.

At around 2:15 p.m. two assist tugs arrived, and helped deliver the Buchanan 12 and its barges to the Greenville Yard at Jersey City, N.J. The tugs then took the Buchanan 12 to the Caddell Dry Dock and Repair Co. Inc. facility on Staten Island, N.Y., where it is undergoing repairs.

The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the steering loss, and had praise for the maritime community’s response.

“This is a great example of interagency coordination to keep our waterways safe,” said Capt. Jason Tama, commander of Coast Guard Sector New York. “Our steadfast watch by our Vessel Traffic Service personnel and timely response from local port partners were key to keeping the waterway open and preventing the situation from escalating.”

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.