Members of the Coast Guard’s Sector Puget Sound answered a call from Pierce County dispatch who reported that the barge under tow by the towing vessel Island Chief, had come in contact with several docks and homes. The towing vessel’s master apparently fell asleep while steering the vessel, according to initial findings.
No cargo was on the barge, which had been pulled free, and the barge and vessel did not sustain serious damage, according to USCG, adding that the barge was taken to Seattle for more investigation and inspection.
No one was injured and no pollution has been reported, said the agency, which confirmed that a drug and alcohol test was initiated by the vessel operator for all personnel directly involved in the collision.
“Incidents such as this are very concerning,” said Cmdr. Nathan Menefee, Chief of Prevention at Sector Puget Sound. “Fortunately, nobody was injured, and the towing vessel did not release fuel or oil into the water. Sector Puget Sound will investigate the incident to determine the cause and whether additional actions are necessary to prevent a similar incident in the future.”
Meanwhile, the Investigating Officer has deemed the barge collision to be a Serious Marine Incident, and could cost more than $250,000 in damages, according to initial estimates.