Coast Guard responds to sunken tug in St. Marys River


SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich   -----  July 1,2013  ---- Coast Guard crews are continuing to respond Monday to a tug that sank in the upper St. Marys River and has been located near hammond-bay-sunken-tuglighted buoy 35.

At 3:30 a.m., a search-and-rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., was contacted by the crew of the tug Bill Maier, which was towing three barges and the tug Hammond Bay when the crew lost sight of the Hammond Bay.

A boatcrew aboard a 26-foot Trailerable Aids-to-Navigation Boat, from Coast Guard Station Sault Ste Marie, Mich., provides a safety zone around the sunken tug Hammond Bay in the St. Marys River, July 1, 2013. The sunken tug is under 27 feet of water and is not impacting maritime traffic along the river. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lucas Monaghan)

After securing the barges, the Bill Maier’s crew attempted to locate the lost tug. They reported finding an oil sheen and a life ring from the lost tug, which led them to believe that the tug had sunk.

There was no one aboard the tug Hammond Bay at the time it became lost. The tugs Bill Maier and Hammond Bay are owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Coast Guard responded to the incident with a boatcrews and a pollution responder aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small, and a 26-foot Trailerable Aids to Navigation Team Boat from Coast Guard Station Sault Ste. Marie, and an aircrew aboard an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., which is conducting aerial assessments.

The Army Corps of Engineers survey vessel Bufe located the sunken tug Hammond Bay in the St. Mary's River in 37 feet of water with 27 feet of overhead clearance near lighted buoy 35.

The Coast Guard is enforcing a 500 foot safety zone around the sunken tug. Aside from the safety zone, normal traffic movement along the St. Mary's River has been restored without restriction.

The Army Corps of Engineers is working on a salvage plan for Hammond Bay.

No pollution was observed by the Coast Guard helocopter crew. The Coast Guard is continually monitoring the situation for any changes.

The Army Corps reports that the Hammond Bay has 200 gallons of diesel fuel and 15 gallons of oil aboard.

The Coast Guard is working with the Army Corps and other partners to minimize any environmental damage and impact to waterways that the sunken tug may present. They are also working on a way to remove the tug.

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