Update on Coast Guard response to cargo ship aground

BALTIMORE – The Coast Guard continues its efforts to free a cargo ship that ran aground Saturday near Gibson Island in the Chesapeake Bay. A Unified Command comprised of the Coast Guard, the State of Maryland, and the vessel operator has been established. The Unified Command is operating out of the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Md.

At about 11:05 a.m. Saturday, watch standers at Coast Guard Sector Baltimore received a call from the motor vessel CSL Argosy, an 800-foot Bahamian flagged bulk carrier, reporting they had run aground in the lower Craig Hill Channel just north of Annapolis, Md.

There are no reports of pollution or injuries. Oil spill recovery equipment has been placed on stand-by should it be needed.

Attempts to free the vessel using tug boats were unsuccessful. It has been determined that a portion of the vessel’s cargo, iron ore, will have to be removed in order to “lighten” the ship and refloat it. Coast Guard officials estimate that 20,000 metric tons of cargo will have to be removed.

Throughout the night Coast Guard personnel along with representatives of the vessel coordinated the movement of four barges to the vessels location. The barges will be used to store the cargo removed from the vessel.

Coast Guard personnel remained on the vessel overnight. The Coast Guard will maintain a team aboard to supervise the efforts until the vessel is successfully refloated.

“We are working with Maryland state agencies, the Maryland Pilots Association and the crewmembers of the Argosy to safely get the vessel free and to have it inspected to insure that it is able to operate safely,” said Capt. Brian Kelley, Captain of the Port of Baltimore.

The Argosy is not obstructing the channel, nor impeding vessel traffic.

The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary safety zone in certain waters of the Chesapeake Bay, within a 500-yard radius of the motor vessel CSL Argosy located in position latitude 39° 04′ 27″ N longitude 076° 23′ 46″ W. This safety zone is necessary to provide for the safety of life, property and the environment. This safety zone restricts the movement of vessels in a portion of the Chesapeake Bay, in order to facilitate damage assessment and salvage of the grounded ship. This rule is effective from Jan. 17, 2009, through 4 p.m. on Jan. 23, 2009.

The Argosy was inbound to Baltimore with a cargo of iron ore.

The cause of the grounding is under investigation.

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