Tug vessel made several unsuccessful attempts to freed the grounded barges on Monday. The Coast Guard planned an operation to offload some of the crude oil of both grounded barges in order to lessen their weight and improve their buoyancy. The offloading operation of the barges was conducted under the Coast Guard management and lead to releasing the vessels.
Team of professionals of the Marine Safety Unit of Texas City was also dispatched at the place of the accident to monitor the operation, to ensure that the taken actions were appropriate and to investigate what lead to grounding of both barges.
This wasn't the first similar situation in the are of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in the Houston/ Galveston area. This happens about 8 time a month for many reasons and are usually refloated without any accidents in 2 to 12 hours.
Both barges with almost 2 billion gallons of crude oil aboard were towed from the Richard Gonsoulin 11 tow ship, as she reported that something got caught in their prop just before both barges grounded around 355 mile marker in the Galveston area.
Both grounded barges were freed without any damages to the ships and more important to crew members and environment.
“Our pollution responders and marine inspectors worked very closely with the owner and operator throughout the entire evolution to ensure the safe refloating of both barges,” said Cmdr. Ricardo Alonso, the commanding officer of Marine Safety Unit Texas City. “The proactive efforts of all parties resulted in the successful transfer of over 756,000 gallons of crude oil with no impact to the marine environment.”The cause of the accident of both barges was unclear and an investigation is being conducted.