Coast Guard Investigates Cause of Tugboat Grounding

 NORFOLK, VA – The U.S. Coast Guard has completed its response to the grounding of the tug RUSSEL B. MURRAY, which ran aground near the north island of the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge Tunnel at about 8:00 a.m. Friday.

The tug refloated without assistance Friday afternoon, and was towed alongside a barge anchored nearby. The tug was leaking fuel oil from underwater cracks in a fuel tank and was flooding at an estimated rate of 100 gallons per minute through a hole in the engineroom. The tug’s crew and Coast Guard personnel, assisted by divers, were able to patch the holes by Friday evening. A boom placed around the vessels captured about 100 gallons of leaking fuel, which was removed by a pollution contractor hired by the tug’s owner. An unrecoverable oil sheen, about one-quarter mile long by 200 yards wide, was observed by a Coast Guard helicopter Friday afternoon in the vicinity of the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge. The sheen had dissipated and evaporated by Saturday morning.

Crews worked through the night to remove more than 36,000 gallons of fuel and oily water from the tug. The damaged tug was towed, with a Coast Guard escort, to a shipyard in Norfolk for repairs. The tug arrived safely at 1:00 p.m. Saturday and was immediately surrounded by oil containment boom as a precaution. Coast Guard investigators are continuing their investigation with interviews of the crew later today.

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