Less than a half-mile west of the channel entrance to Krause Lagoon
, the freighter Sea Cloud remains hard aground in the amidships area after a failed attempt to enter the channel yesterday morning. A Coast Guard team from St. Croix immediately responded to the incident and was assisted by a second team from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Coast Guard and local authorities along with the salvage company and environmental response contractor hired by the responsible party are working together to remove the vessel while minimizing the risk of pollution and damage to the surrounding environment.
Sea Cloud is carrying a cargo of non-hazardous dry-goods loaded in containers; however the ships fuel tanks contain more than 335,000 gallons of various fuel oils posing the greatest potential environmental risks.
Divers hired by the responsible party, report no significant damage to the ships hull. The fuel tanks of major concern are located at the rear of the ship. This section is reported to be free floating and the tanks are currently not in danger of leaking.
The entrance to Krause Lagoon is not blocked and commercial traffic continues to transit the channel. The cause of the accident is still under investigation, but mechanical failure does not appear to have contributed to the grounding. Alcohol testing of the bridge crew is standard procedure and was determined to not be a factor in this case.
Commander Elmer Emeric, Commanding Officer of Sector San Juan Prevention Operations augmented the Coast Guard Office in St. Croix. The team will provide oversight of the responsible party’s plans to safely refloat the ship while minimizing the potential environmental impact.
"The respopnsible party is working in full cooperation with the Coasty Guard, territorial agencies and natural resource trustees to address the salvage and environmental issues of concern. We have time to ensure that any work performed to remove the vessel is done carefully with maximum consideration given to minimizing all risk." said Commander Emeric.