Coast Guard responds to 477-foot cargo ship disabled and adrift near Florida Keys


The salvage vessel Resolve Pioneer tows the 477-foot bulk cargo ship Ainu Princess away from the Dry Tortugas after it suffered an engine casualty and threatened to run aground. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The salvage vessel Resolve Pioneer tows the 477-foot bulk cargo ship Ainu Princess away from the Dry Tortugas. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

KEY WEST, Fla. – Key West-based Coast Guard units responded to a 477-foot bulk cargo ship Friday that lost propulsion about 42 miles southwest of the Dry Tortugas, Fla., and was drifting with the possibility of running aground.

At approximately 10:45 p.m. Thursday, Coast Guard Sector Key West Command Center personnel received notification from the O’Brien Response Management Corp. that the motor vessel Ainu Princess was transiting from New Orleans toward Mariel, Cuba, with a cargo load of 8,800 metric tons of dry grain when the vessel lost propulsion and began drifting slowly to the northeast toward the Marquesas Keys.

If left unchecked, the vessel had the potential to go aground with more than 240,000 gallons of fuel onboard inside the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Sector Key West watchstanders immediately diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Key Biscayne to transit toward the Ainu Princess and issued the vessel’s agent an order to immediately deploy emergency towing assistance to prevent the vessel from running aground.

Once on scene, the crew of the Key Biscayne confirmed fuel and cargo quantities, and placed the Ainu Princess on a 15-minute communications schedule.

At 1:45 a.m., Sector Key West personnel received confirmation from the vessel’s agent that they had contracted with the salvage vessel Resolve Pioneer, staged in Key West, to assist.

The Resolve Pioneer arrived on scene with the Ainu Princess around 10 a.m. Friday and took the vessel in tow away from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Dry Tortugas National Park.

The Resolve Pioneer is currently proceeding to Mariel, Cuba, with the Ainu Princess in tow and will release the tow prior to entering Cuban territorial seas, which extends out 12 miles from Cuban shores.

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