Tug grounded on Bligh Reef, Fuel tanks breached

by Hans | December 25th, 2009

A 136-foot tug doing an ice survey in Prince William Sound grounded on Bligh Reef at about 6 p.m. Wednesday night, and two of its fuel tanks were damaged. The Coast Guard responded and issued a report at 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fuel tanks contain an estimated 33,500 gallons of diesel, about a quarter of their total capacity, and were reportedly breached. A Coast Guard dive team reported extensive damage to the hull, including a four- to five-foot section of the keel missing.

The Coast Guard says the tugboat Pathfinder’s crew deployed 200 feet of fuel containment booms around the vessel after clearing the reef and continuing to deeper waters Wednesday evening.

The amount of diesel already spilled is unknown, according to an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation report, but the entire 33,500 gallons is at risk, the report says.

The Pathfinder is a Crowley Marine Services docking and escort tug for oil tankers at the Port of Valdez. Two departing tankers have been delayed to allow for Coast Guard and other response vessels to operate, the Coast Guard said.

All six crewmembers were tested for alcohol with negative results.

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