Coast Guard responding to tug grounding in Prince William Sound

VALDEZ, Alaska – Coast Guard personnel from Marine Safety Unit Valdez, Sector Anchorage and Cutter Long Island are responding to a 136-foot Crowley tug grounding on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound Thursday.

The Pathfinder crew had completed an ice survey and was heading back to its port in Valdez when the vessel struck the reef Wednesday evening. Vessel Traffic System Prince William Sound personnel received a radio call at 6:15 p.m. from Pathfinder’s master via VHF radio reporting the grounding.

The Pathfinder cleared the reef and proceeded to deeper waters at about 6:50 p.m. Anchoring just south of Busby Island, the tug’s six crewmembers reportedly deployed 200-feet of fuel containment booms around the vessel.

Two of the tug’s centerline diesel fuel tanks were reported breached with a potential spill of 33,500 gallons. The total capacity of the vessel is approximately127,700 gallons of diesel fuel. None of the crewmembers were reported injured.

The tugboat Invader and oil recovery boat Valdez Star are enroute to the location of the grounding to offer any possible assistance.

Two divers were tranported by the landing signal craft Alaska Challenge. Divers conducted an underwater survey of the Pathfinder’s hull at approximately 2:30 a.m. but have not provided a report yet. A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak H-C130 Hercules aircraft is scheduled to conduct a overflight Thursday about 10 a.m.

The Pathfinder is a Crowley Marine Services docking and escort tug for the Trans Alaska Pipeline System Tankers. MSU Valdez is investigating the cause of the grounding.

Two tankers departing the Port of Valdez have been delayed to allow for Coast Guard and other response vessels to operate.

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