Lightering Ops Commence on Grounded Tanker Off NYC

Friday, July 13, 2007
Crews were expected to begin lightering 110,000 barrels of low sulfur fuel oil from the grounded tank ship White Sea to Bouchard Barge B-230 last night (July 12) at 10:00 p.m. Officials anticipate refloating the 800-foot Liberian-flagged tank ship about 8:00 p.m. Friday (July 13) during high tide.

Capt. Robert R. O'Brien, Coast Guard Captain of the Port of New York and New Jersey approved the salvage plan which calls for additional barges should more product need to be lightered from the White Sea to refloat it. A dive survey is scheduled for first light to assess the condition of the ship's hull.

The Bayonne, N.J.-based Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay relieved the cutter Katherine Walker, another Bayonne-based cutter, in enforcing a 500 yard security zone around the tanker.

The White Sea was en route Singapore from Bayonne, N.J. with 556,000 barrels of low sulfur fuel oil when it lost steering and ran aground four miles north of Sandy Hook, N.J. at 6:30 a.m. on July 12 just outside the Ambrose shipping channel. The ship's crew immediately deployed oil containment boom as a precaution. The ship suffered breaches to two ballast water tanks, but the product compartments inside the double-hulled ship remain intact. There are no reports of injuries aboard the White Sea.

"By lightering 110,000 barrels, we hope to safely refloat the White Sea and avert any type of environmental impact a serious hull breach may cause," said Lt. Craig Toomey, a Coast Guard Sector New York Command Duty Officer. "Vessel groundings, especially groundings of tank ships filled with oil, call for exercising prudence and patience in order to avoid any additional hull stress a rushed salvage operation may cause."

The location of the grounded ship caused no delays to other incoming and departing shipping.

The White Sea is owned by the Singapore-based Tanker Pacific Management on a time charter to United Arab Emirates-based Westport Shipping Services. Its local agent is Atlantic Shipping Company.

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