Crews race to keep tug/barge unit from grounding

U.S. Coast Guard response and incident management teams were coordinating with G&H Towing and T&T Marine Salvage to prevent a disabled tug and barge from running aground on Galveston Island Saturday.

At 2:19 p.m., an agent for the integrated 131’x37’x19.2′ tug OSG Independence, and its 580’x 84′ chemical/products barge, OSG 243, contacted Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders to report that the tug separated from the barge in heavy seas off the Galveston Island Pleasure Pier, while dragging both anchors. They worked to connect the emergency towline, which went under the tug and fouled their starboard propeller. The tug and barge are owned by Overseas Shipholding Group, Tampa, Fla.

Marine Safety Unit Texas City incident management personnel and the Galveston Police Department were on scene at approximately 3:15 p.m. to monitor the situation and provide public safety on shore. A Station Galveston boat crew provided on scene visibility as well as an Air Station Houston MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew. Shortly after the incident occurred, the Independence crew activated its vessel response plan, which guided response efforts. The tug 69’x20′ Thor arrived on scene at around 4 p.m. and began providing assistance. The Thor’s crew gained control of the adrift barge at 8:45 p.m. and began towing them away from shore.

The tugs Deacon, Captain, and Holt T joined the efforts to assist the Independence. There are no injuries to the six people aboard the tug and two people aboard the barge. No pollution has been reported.

The barge was empty of any cargo. It was previously carrying gasoline and the cargo tanks were filled with inert gas to neutralize danger from residual fumes.

The seas were reported to be 6′ to 8′ at the time of the incident and were expected to reach up to 12′ with 40-knot winds. No Coast Guard updates have been released since early Sunday.

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