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Munitions Barge St. Elias refloated

The munitions barge St. Elias, which ran aground five miles southwest of Anacortes, Wash., in Rosario Strait, Monday, was refloated, inspected and towed to Indian Island, Wash., Tuesday.

The hull of the 322-foot, dry-cargo barge was inspected by contracted divers from Global Marine & Diving, who located a 10-foot by 10-foot hole in the forward starboard hold. The hole did not affect the stability of the vessel and draft readings indicated no change to the barge’s trim.

Sector Puget Sound received a towing plan from Foss Maritime, who is in close coordination with the barge’s owner, Samson Tug & Barge, based in Sitka, Alaska. After thorough review, the plan was approved. The tug Delta Lindsey took the St. Elias in side tow to Indian Island, with the undamaged stern forward. The tug Henry Brusco assisted with the tow escort, along with the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Swordfish, from Port Angeles, Wash.

“As I stated yesterday, 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.”