Coast Guard coordinates Donjon, Moran tugs for bulker salvage

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.

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate 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 a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 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.

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