Cypriot freighter runs aground, freed 6 hours later U.S. Coast Guard investigating

November 28, 1992|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer

TILGHMAN ISLAND -- The U.S. Coast Guard is investigatin the grounding on Thanksgiving Day of a Cypriot freighter, which was headed south in the Chesapeake Bay when it struck a muddy shoal near the mouth of the Choptank River.

The 750-foot ship was freed with the help of yesterday's 5:30 p.m. high tide and two tugboats from Baltimore. Under its own power, the freighter last night was headed for Norfolk, Va., where it is expected to be checked for damage.

The freighter, Katya V, left Baltimore Harbor Thursday with a load of grain bound for Spain. It was moving through thick fog when it veered a half mile from the main shipping channel and slipped onto the soft bay bottom near the Sharps Island light about 11 a.m.

L There were no reports of injuries among the 33 crew members.

Lt. Beverly Buysse, a Coast Guard spokeswoman, said the cause of the grounding is under investigation. The ship carried two Chesapeake Bay pilots on board, but a member of the Association of Maryland Pilots declined to comment on the grounding.

The ship is owned by Med Globe Shipping Co. Ltd. of Nicosia, Cyprus, and is operated by Propontis Shipping Agency of London.

Lieutenant Buysse said officials did not fear an oil spill when the ship ran aground because the freighter was built with a double hull. That type of construction makes the potential for a spill "minimal," she said.

Shortly after the freighter ran aground, a Coast Guard vessel out of Taylor's Island and a privately owned boat from Talbot County conducted soundings around the stricken ship.

Bill Gilmer of Tow Jamm Marine Inc. in Neavitt said the stern was afloat but a portion of the bow was stuck in several feet of mud. Depths in the shipping channel to the west of the site where the freighter ran aground reach 100 feet.

A Coast Guard vessel stayed with the ship throughout the day yesterday. Northerly winds hampered attempts to move the freighter.

As a safeguard, the ship's owner engaged a pollution response contractor.

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