Coast Guard responding to cargo container incident

Barge container ship, Columbia Elizabeth, is towed to Port of Palm Beach, Dec. 6, 2015. While enroute to Puerto Rico, several cargo containers fell overboard off the coast of Port Canaveral, Fla. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Barge container ship, Columbia Elizabeth, is towed to Port of Palm Beach, Dec. 6, 2015.  U.S. Coast Guard photo.

MIAMI — Coast Guard crews are responding to reports of multiple containers falling off a barge off the coast between Port Canaveral, Florida, and West Palm Beach, Florida, Sunday.

The U.S. flagged 136-foot Tug Capt Latham was enroute to Puerto Rico as it tugged a 340-foot barge, Columbia Elizabeth, when crew aboard noticed several cargo containers hanging over the port side of the barge and believed more had fallen into the water while in transit. The Capt Latham terminated their course towards Puerto Rico and diverted to Port of Palm Beach for further investigation.

A MH-65 helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Miami and a crew from the Coast Guard Cutter Margaret Norvell responded to the report to assess the barge.

At approximately 3:00 p.m., the vessel moored safely in the Port of Palm Beach. It was then determined that up to 25 containers were unaccounted for with an undetermined amount of which fell overboard. Several of the containers were confirmed to be carrying batteries.

One of the containers washed ashore in Port Canaveral.

The Coast Guard is investigating the incident and plans to launch an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft to begin searching at sunrise.

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