Multiple agencies respond to grounded barge southwest of Anacortes, Wash

Coast Guard District 13 NewsSEATTLE — The dry-cargo barge, St. Elias, which ran aground five miles southwest of Anacortes, Wash., in Rosario Strait, Monday, refloated free of Belle Rock at 3 p.m.

The St. Elias was towed into the middle of the channel and is sitting at its normal drift marks.

Sector Puget Sound and Washington Dept. of Ecology are working with response tugs to transport the St. Elias to a location in the vicinity of Shannon Point were further dive assessment will occur. After reviewing the assessment and further visual inspections, the Coast Guard, in conjunction with all parties involved, will work the next phase of the vessel transit to Indian Island.

“This response, and the continued efforts, is a success in part to the combined work of several federal, state, local agencies and industry,” said Capt. Scott Ferguson, Commanding Officer of Sector Puget Sound. “We practice coordinated response exercises often so all agencies are prepared when real situations occur. This is an example of what we prepare for…and we were ready.”

Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound was notified at 5:45 a.m., that the 322-foot barge St. Elias was being towed south through Rosario Strait by the 101-foot tug Henry Brusco when it ran aground at approximately 5:20 a.m. Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles, Wash., conducted a morning over flight and Coast Guard Station Bellingham, Wash., conducted an on-site review, and both reported no signs of pollution. As an environmental precaution, containment doom was deployed around the vessel.

U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians, from Anacortes, along with a Sector Puget Sound inspector, conducted a safety assessment on board the St. Elias, due to the fact that some of the containers on board housed explosive ordnances. The ordnance was determined to be secure and stable. As an additional safety precaution, a 2,000-yard safety zone was established in the area around Belle Rock. Once the vessel was refloated, the safety zone was lifted and Rosario Strait opened to all traffic.

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