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Coast Guard responds to fuel oil leak and ship aground

USCG assists ports of New York/New Jersey and Virginia

The Coast Guard is assisting a bulk carrier that has run aground near the Port of Virginia (Photo: USCG)

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) said Thursday that a container ship is no longer leaking fuel oil at the Port of New York and New Jersey and that it was assessing damage to a bulk carrier that ran aground near the Port of Virginia. 

“Fuel oil is being pumped from the affected tank to a barge alongside the vessel,” the USCG said in a statement. “Oil containment boom and absorbent pads are deployed around the YM Mandate and skimming vessels continue to remove oil from the water.”

Coast Guard Sector New York was alerted Monday of a sheen near the Yang Ming container ship at the Global Container Terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey. Coast Guard investigators confirmed a fuel oil leak was coming from a crack in the YM Mandate’s hull. A unified command consisting of the USCG, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Gallagher Marine Systems was then formed to respond.

Ethan Chan of Yang Ming told American Shipper that the YM Mandate crew realized the vessel was leaking fuel oil after completing bunkering operations in Bayonne.

“The master of the vessel immediately reported the incident to the USCG and all concerned parties pursuant to its USCG-approved vessel response plan,” Chan said. “Oil containment boom was deployed without delay and skimming vessels were engaged to remove any spilled oil. 

“To prevent further leaking, the oil from the affected tank was being transferred to the vessel’s other internal tanks and Yang Ming headquarters arranged an oil barge alongside the vessel to complete debunker operations,” he said.

“Cleanup crews have successfully recovered much of the oil that has been released and will continue to do so until regulatory authorities are satisfied,” Chan said. 

The USCG said fuel oil will continue to be pumped from the affected tank until it is empty and repairs to the hull can be made.

Amanda Kwan of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey told American Shipper on Thursday that the USCG, DEP, Gallagher Marine and Global Container Terminal are “working together to clean residual fuel in the Port Jersey Channel as quickly as possible. Port operations have not been affected during this process.”

The USCG also said Thursday it was working with the Port of Virginia’s maritime incident response team to assist the crew of a cargo ship that ran aground near Norfolk on Wednesday night. 

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Virginia command center received notification from crew members aboard the Hong Dai, a Panamanian-flagged 738-foot bulk coal carrier, that the ship had run aground on a soft sandy bottom approximately one-quarter mile northwest of Sewell’s Point in Norfolk. 

The Hong Dai’s crew reported no injuries, pollution or flooding concerns at the time, according to the USCG, which boarded the vessel Thursday morning and was assessing damages and the threat of pollution.

“The vessel remains under a captain of the port order to remain in place and the Coast Guard is currently in communication with the ship’s owners to assist in establishing a salvage plan,” the USCG said. 

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Click for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.