Coast Guard crews and other responders worked Friday to remove fuel and oil and reduce pollution risk from a tugboat and barge that went aground after the crew was rescued near Boca Raton, Fla.

A mayday call around 8:45 p.m. reported the tug and tow in distress and taking on water three miles east of Hillsboro Beach, Fla., with four persons aboard, according to Coast Guard 7th District officials.

Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations crews responded to the scene and picked up three crewmembers on the barge, while a crew from Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale rescued the captain who had stayed on the tug.

The crew reunited on the Coast Guard vessel and were taken to the station. There were no reported injuries.

At the time of the distress call the 71.5’x24’ Sea Eagle was en route from Cape Canaveral to Fort Lauderdale, according to the vessel tracking service Marine Traffic. The ultimate destination was the Bahamas, where U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command was sending it on a scheduled routine supply mission to the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center. The barge was carrying ordnance, fuel and other supplies.

The vessels are operated by NOSAT, Northcliffe Ocean Shipping & Trading, "which is working with a salvage company to safely remove the tug and barge, and tow them to a nearby port. There is no danger to people living nearby the stranded barge," according to the Coast Guard. "The Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Six (EODMU 6), Detachment Mayport will safely clear the barge of any potential munitions or ordnance on board."

The Coast Guard established a 1,000’ safety zone on land to keep beachgoers back from the scene, and a 1,000-yard security zone to seaward pending salvage attempts. Shoreside beach access and physical security is being maintained by Deerfield Beach, Boca Raton, and Broward County Sheriff's office. 

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.

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