Lightering Operations Begin on Grounded Cargo Ship

BALTIMORE – Responders with the Unified Command have launched operations to transfer coal from the cargo ship Montrose to a barge along side it at about 3 p.m. today in the Chesapeake Bay.

The 712-foot cargo ship Montrose, carrying 74,215 metric tons of coal, ran aground Wednesday near Sharps Island, Md.

A crane operator is transferring approximately seven tons of coal with each load. Experts estimated the operation to take 36 hours to remove the amount of coal needed to re-float the ship.

The next phase of the operation will remove the barges as responders attempt to re-float the ship. Once afloat, the ship will be taken to safe anchorage for inspection.

The Coast Guard Cutter Cochito, home ported in Portsmouth, Va., is currently enforcing a 500-yard safety zone for the ship. The Coast Guard Cutter Capstan, home ported in Philadelphia is scheduled to relieve the Cochito at midnight.

There have been no reports of pollution or injuries. However, the transfer of coal will generate dust in the air and may cause discoloration in the water. Boaters are reminded that water discoloration within the vicinity of the operation is not a result of oil or hazardous chemicals.

“Coal is ugly, and it will discolor the water, however the effect it has on the environment is very minimal,” said Alan Williams, on-scene coordinator for the State of Maryland.

The Unified Command consists of the Coast Guard, ECM Maritime Services, Resolve Marine Group, Maryland Natural Resources Police, Motia, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of the Environment.

BALTIMORE - Barge, under the direction of the Unified Command, ties up next to the cargo ship Montrose which is currently aground in the Chesapeake Bay. The crane began removing coal from the ships cargo in order to make it lighter in an attempt to re-float the ship March 4, 2007. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Evanson

BALTIMORE – Barge, under the direction of the Unified Command, ties up next to the cargo ship Montrose which is currently aground in the Chesapeake Bay. The crane began removing coal from the ships cargo in order to make it lighter in an attempt to re-float the ship March 4, 2007.
U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Evanson

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