Coast Guard Auxiliary responds to capsized barge

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

LAKE HURON – Coast Guard Auxiliary boats responded to the capsizing of a 110 foot barge and its tugboat about two miles off Lakeport State Park, Michigan July 17.  The barge Arthur J was carrying between 1,500 and 2,000 gallons of fuel.  Auxiliary members contacted Sector Detroit to determine if assistance was needed. Lt. Jillian Lamb requested Auxiliary members to maintain a safety zone around the barge.

Article by Auxiliarist Tom Nunes

Coast Guard Auxiliary Coxswain Eloy Gonzalez launched a 23-ft. boat with David Bennis as crewmember.  This boat transported sector staff and TowBoat U.S.  staff to and from the scene.  Gonzalez and Bennis were on scene for six hours.

A broadcast Email and an Everbridge alert was sent out for all available coxswains and crew in the 9th Coast Region District, Divisions 18, 20, 22, and 24.  At 6:30 p.m. a 42-ft boat was launched skippered by Commodore Wes Cottrell with crew members Chase Wade, Commodore Dick Martin, Bill McDonald, and Dave Pederson.  Their mission was to circle the barge, determine if the floating boom was in place, and report any oil slicks. At about 7:20 p.m., the coxswain reported that the boom was in place with three floating fenders/buoys on the wreck’s windward side. A strobe light was on and a U.S. flag was flying atop the barge. A heavy diesel oil odor was present along with an oil sheen on the leeward side.

The Arthur J and the tug Madison sank in 22 feet of water in 4-to 6-foot seas with winds of 15-20 knots. The barge was standing upright on the bottom of the lake on its stern, its bow protruding from the water. The tug was upside down. The barge, flanked by the Madison and another tug, was being towed to Lake Erie by the converted auto ferry Drummond Islander and another tug when it capsized. A six-person crew was aboard the vessels when the accident happened. All crewmembers are safe. The boats are owned by MCM Marine of Sault Ste. Marie. The firm immediately hired Marine Pollution Control of Detroit to assist with the cleanup.

Sector Detroit requested an additional 10 Auxiliarists to walk the shoreline looking for traces of oil near Port Huron July 20.   Fifteen Auxiliary members worked from 7 a.m. to noon. Station Port Huron requested four Auxiliary vessels to maintain the safety zone around the sunken barge, on Saturday and Sunday.

The cause of the accident is unknown, and the Coast Guard is investigating.

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  1. Laurence Leighton says:

    I have a correction for your report. I was one of the volunteers from flotilla 24-02. There was 3 auxiliary members who did a beach sweep in the afternoon to about 1630. Myself and another auxiliarist Randy Mainer of 24-02 and the third auxiliarist from another flotilla.

    Laurence Leighton 24-02

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