180-foot barge runs aground near Anna Maria Island, Fla.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A 180-foot barge ran aground on Anna Maria Island after breaking free from a tug boat early Tuesday morning.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received notification at 2 a.m., Tuesday, that the operator of tug Abe H was having difficulty steering due to weather and was unable to control the two barges he was pushing approximately one mile west off of Longboat Key.

A 180-foot barge is shown beached on Anna Maria Island, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Watchstanders at Sector St. Petersburg received notification at 2 a.m., April 8 that the operator of tug ABE H was having difficulty steering due to weather, and was unable to control one of the two barges that the tug was pushing approximately one mile west off of Longboat Key. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

A 180-foot barge is shown beached on Anna Maria Island, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Watchstanders launched the Coast Guard Cutter Hawk, an 87-foot Coastal Patrol Boat homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla., and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Cortez to assist. Command posts were established on Anna Maria Island and at Sector St. Petersburg.

The operator told watchstanders that he was able to anchor one barge; however, while attempting to gain control of the other, the line parted and the barge began drifting until it grounded on the beach at Anna Maria Island.

“It was imperative to safely remove the grounded barge before it severely damaged the beach or became a greater hazard to navigation,” said Capt. Greg Case, commander of the sector. “I’m extremely proud of all the responders that quickly converged on scene to ensure the barge was towed to safety.”

Coast Guard incident management personnel from the sector are on scene overseeing the operation, assessing any pollution concerns and continue to monitor the other anchored barge.

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