Lightering Continues on Tanker Aground in Ambrose Channel

 NEW YORK-Cargo tanks remain intact aboard the 800-foot grounded tank ship White Sea and crews continue lightering 120,000 barrels of low sulfur fuel oil to Bouchard Barge B-230, at a rate of 10,000 barrels an hour, today. Lightering operations, which started at 2:00 a.m., are expected to take about 12 hours. Officials anticipate re-floating the Liberian-flagged tank ship about 8:00 p.m. tonight.

The Bayonne, N.J.-based Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay continues to enforce a 500-yard safety zone around the ship.

Capt. Robert R. O’Brien Jr., Coast Guard Captain of the Port of New York and New Jersey approved the salvage plan which calls for additional barges should more product need to be lightered from the White Sea to re-float it. The Coast Guard continues its investigation.

The White Sea was en route Singapore from Bayonne, N.J. with 556,000 barrels of low sulfur fuel oil when it lost steering and ran aground by buoy 14 in the Ambrose shipping channel, about four miles north of Sandy Hook, N.J. at 6:30 a.m. Thursday. The ship’s crew immediately deployed oil containment boom as a precaution. The ship suffered breaches to two ballast water tanks, but the product compartments inside the double-hulled ship remain intact. There are no reports of injuries aboard the White Sea.

“The cooperation of the vessel owner and salvage team has allowed this operation to run very smoothly,” said Coast Guard Commander Eric Christensen, the Prevention Department Head, at Sector New York. “We believe there is a solid plan in place to re-float the vessel and will continue to exercise appropriate safety precautions throughout the salvage effort.”

The location of the grounded ship caused no delays to vessels transiting in and out of the third largest port in the nation.

The U.S. Coast Guard sent several assets to monitor the grounding. A Station Sandy Hook rescue boat established a safety zone around the ship and an Air Station Atlantic City helicopter conducted an overflight pollution assessment. The cutter Katherine Walker arrived on scene and was prepared to deploy additional oil containment boom if necessary. The crew of the cutter Katherine Walker recently completed training on the Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System (VOSS) a deployable modular oil recovery system that can be affixed to a single ship or to two ships working in tandem. VOSS has a maximum skimming capability of 190 gallons per minute.

The White Sea is owned by the Singapore-based Tanker Pacific Management on a time charter to United Arab Emirates-based Westport Shipping Services. Its local agent is Atlantic Shipping Company.

The seas are reported as calm, two-to-four foot seas and northwesterly winds at 10-15 knots.

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