Coast Guard Secures Adrift Barge

Thursday, January 19, 2006
A Coast Guard crew secured an adrift double-hulled barge carrying 5.5 million gallons of petroleum product off the southern coast of North Carolina. Members of Coast Guard Sector North Carolina's prevention department hooked towing gear to the tug Justine Foss, with the help of a rescue boat from Station Wrightsville Beach. Justine Foss is the same tug that responded to the original distress call of the tug Valour's crew. The Coast Guard team was lowered from a Marine Corps helicopter based in Cherry Point, N.C. The Marine helicopter was requested because of its proximity to the operating area. While adrift, the barge hit and displaced the #16 red buoy near Frying Pan Shoals off Wrightsville Beach, N.C. It does not appear that the buoy caused any damage to the barge. The barge was originally set adrift after its tug, the Valour, turned around to recover a crewember that fell overboard in heavy seas. During the search for the crewman, the tug began taking on water and later sank. The search continues for one crewman. Of the other eight, one crewman is confirmed dead, one is believed to have gone down with the tug, one is in Wilmington, N.C., one is en route to Elizabeth City, N.C, and four are safe aboard the Justine Foss. The Coast Guard suspended the search for the last missing crewman of the tug Valour just after midnight this morning. Coast Guard crews searched more than 1700 square nautical miles over a period of 16 hours. The following crews took part in the search: a Charleston, S.C., based helicopter; the CGC Tarpon, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Charleston; an Elizabeth City, N.C, based helicopter and C-130 airplane; the 225-foot CGC Elm, homeported in Atlantic Beach, N.C.; and a 47-foot motor life boat crew from Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

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