Western Mariner runs aground in Neva Strait

The tugboat Western Mariner ran aground Monday morning while towing the Chichagof Provider through the Neva Strait according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

At 2:55 a.m. watchstanders in the Sector Juneau command center received a radio call from the Western Mariner stating that the 286-foot containerized barge in tow had collided with the tug, causing the tug to run aground.

The Coast Guard has reported no injuries and all four crew members were safely transported from the Western Mariner to a nearby vessel.

One of the tug's fuel tanks, which can contain a maximum of 13,000 gallons of diesel fuel, was ruptured in the collision and an oil sheen was observed around the tug.

The Coast Guard, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and Western Towboat, which owns the tug, have established a unified command and are deploying containment measures to reduce the spread of oil.

According to the Coast Guard, all fuel manifolds on board the Western Mariner have been secured to isolate the ruptured tank and fuel is being offloaded.

Western Towboat has contracted Hanson Maritime, Southeast Alaska Petroleum Response Organization (SEAPRO), and Global Diving & Salvage to respond, and the Coast Guard has deployed responders to oversee response operations.

The potential environmental impacts of the incident are being assessed by natural resource agencies, and the Coast Guard is consulting with federally recognized tribes in the area.

Tugboats Banner and Salvation and fishing vessel Nushagak Spirit were there to assist according to the Coast Guard.

The barge is now anchored in Neva Strait and is not impacting vessel traffic.

Western Towboat is a service partner to Alaska Marine Lines according to Lynden Director of Marketing Ryan Dixon who wrote that the tug was headed to Sitka when "it experienced mechanical problems."

"We will be using a different tug to continue the barge voyage, but freight deliveries to Sitka and Kake will be delayed by about 1 day for both voyages this week," Dixon wrote.

According to the Coast Guard, the cause of the incident is still under investigation.


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