MSU Galveston continues to monitor lightering operations of 900-foot tank ship

GALVESTON, Texas – Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Galveston personnel are monitoring lightering operations on the 900-foot tank ship SKS Satilla, 65 miles south of Galveston.

Lightering operations began today, and weather conditions permitting, operations are scheduled to be complete Tuesday, March 10, 2009.

The SKS Satilla is currently stable after sustaining damage to a large area along the port side of the ship’s hull below the waterline. A remotely operated underwater vehicle contracted by SMIT Salvage retraced the tank ship’s course to investigate the cause of the damage.

The underwater vehicle discovered a submerged mobile offshore drilling unit, the ENSCO 74, in the vicinity of the ship’s location prior to the incident. The ENSCO 74 was reported missing after Hurricane Ike. The unit’s owner, ENSCO Offshore Company, has been notified. They are planning to place a marker buoy at the location, and salvage the unit as soon as possible.

“Right now, we are achieving all of our objectives. The vessel remains stable and the crew is safe. No oil has been released into the water. We plan to continue offloading the entire cargo of over 41 million gallons of oil to two tank ships, and then ensure the damaged tanker makes it safely to a shipyard for repairs. The sunken mobile offshore drilling unit that we discovered today will be properly marked with a buoy to prevent additional accidents, and ultimately salvaged,” said Cmdr. James Elliott, commanding officer of MSU Galveston.

A unified command consisting of the following organizations has been formed:

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association
  • Texas General Land Office
  • United States Mineral Management Service
  • United States Coast Guard
  • SMIT Salvage
  • The O’Brien’s Group
  • American Eagle Tankers
  • ENSCO Offshore Company
  • SKS Obo Holding Limited

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