Grounded barge on Kuskokwim River refloated

KODIAK, Alaska – The Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Western Alaska approved a lightering plan allowing for the removal of 30,000 gallons of aviation fuel from the grounded barge Napamute providing for a successful re-float of the barge on the Kuskokwim River Monday morning.

The 165-foot barge had approximately 109,000 gallons of aviation fuel and 42,500 gallons of unleaded gasoline on board. The 30,000 gallons of the aviation fuel were lightered to the barge Ray’sons and with the reduction in weight coupled with higher water levels in the river due to rain, resulted in the successful re-float of the barge. The crew is now back on their delivery schedule and the barge will pull into McGrath.

The barge, operated by Crowley Marine Services, grounded June 22 at 9 p.m. on a sandbar near McDonald’s Crossing upriver from Bethel. Tugs remained on station with the barge. Low water levels in the river rendered previous re-float attempts unsuccessful.

It is not unusual for barges to ground on the shifting bottom of the Yukon Kuskowim region’s rivers. No injuries and no pollution have been reported. The crew inspected the barge following the grounding, did not sight any damage and is providing daily reports to investigators at Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. The crew of the barge will continue to closely monitor the levels in the tanks on board for changes that might indicate previously unnoticed damage to the barge.

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