Ship runs aground in bay

March 01, 2007|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,Sun Reporter

A ship loaded with coal ran aground yesterday morning in the Chesapeake Bay off Tilghman Island after its crew tried to navigate through waters too shallow for its deep draft, the Coast Guard reported.

Tugboat crews were attempting last night to free the commercial bulk carrier, 712 feet long and weighing 38,700 tons.

The Montrose had been traveling from the Sparrows Point terminal, heading south along the bay's deep main channel to reach the Atlantic Ocean, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeff Cheek. But somehow, he said, it ended up near the mouth of the Choptank River about four miles off Tilghman Island, its bow to the shoal.

Coast Guard officials say it is rare for such a large ship to run aground in that area of the bay, especially because those who navigate large vessels are usually very experienced.

The Coast Guard received an alert at 8:15 a.m. from a Chesapeake Bay pilot - who was not aboard - that the vessel had run aground. Officials determined later in the morning that the vessel was not blocking shipping traffic

Coast Guard officials were investigating last night why the ship ran aground. Two Coast Guard marine inspectors were on the scene last night as crews were attempting to free the ship, said Lt. Isaac Saenz.

If the tugs are unable to free the ship, Saenz said, the Coast Guard would look at other options, including off-loading the coal to lighten its weight.

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