The Coast Guard helped save a sinking barge today on the Elizabeth River near the south end of Naval Station Norfolk.
The 20-person crew of the dredging barge Pullen, a 150-ft. barge owned by the Norfolk Dredging Company
, saw the Coast Guard Cutter Block Island underway and called for help at 10:30 a.m. The crew had a malfunction in their dredging gear that began flooding their bargeÃ¢Â€Â™s forward hold at a rate of approximately 400 gallons a minute. left nearly eight feet of water in their
The Block Island responded with several dewatering pumps. With the water Pullenâ€™s forward hold reaching eight feet deep, rescue coordinators at Group Hampton Roads diverted a Coast Guard helicopter in the area to drop an additional pump to the foundering barge. Rescue coordinators also launched three small boats from Station Portsmouth to assist in the effort.
Six Coast Guardsmen from the various units boarded the Pullen and were able to control the flooding and get the water down to two feet in the forward hold.
The barge is on the edge of the shipping channel and is not impeding waterway traffic. Coast Guard crews currently have 10 pumps running to maintain control of the flooding.
All Coast Guard personnel are off the barge, but the cutter Block Island and three small boats from Station Portsmouth are still with the barge. The cutter Cochito is on its way to also assist.