No damage reported to tanker that ran aground

April 18, 2002|By Heather Dewar | Heather Dewar,SUN STAFF

A loaded tanker that ran aground off the Eastern Shore on Monday night was safely refloated without spilling any of its cargo and seems to be undamaged, a Coast Guard investigator said yesterday.

The M/V Fulgur was carrying 8 million gallons of gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene from Newark, N.J., to Baltimore and was off Tolchester Beach in the upper Chesapeake Bay when it developed steering problems, said Lt. Russell Bowman, assistant chief of investigations at the Baltimore Coast Guard station.

"Something caused two pumps to oppose each other, effectively locking up the steering system," Bowman said. The crew "used their engines and anchors to try to stay in the channel, but eventually they ran aground."

The 600-foot tanker, operated by Shell International Trading and Shipping Co., draws 30 feet of water and ran aground in 23 feet. The Coast Guard, the Maryland Department of the Environment and a private contractor stood by with pollution-control equipment, but it was not needed, Bowman said.

At 11:30 p.m., shortly after high tide, two tugboats pulled the ship back into the channel. It proceeded to its destination in Curtis Bay and was scheduled to unload its fuel as planned.

Built last year, the 27,500-ton tanker has no record of accidents, and the crew had not reported previous mechanical problems, Bowman said.

Like all new tankers, it has a double hull to protect against spills, as required by Congress in 1990 in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The ship's hull had no sign of damage, but the tanker's operators were awaiting a diver's report to make certain of that, Bowman said.

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