Region: Atlantic ICW – FL & St. Johns R.
Date Reported: Oct 29, 2015
Reported By: Captain Chris Caldwell
Source: Cruising Contributor
Ed. Note: Thank you, Capt. Chris, for this update on the grounded swamped boat at St. Lucie Inlet. The boat grounded and was swamped Oct. 27, 2015, apparently on its way to Haiti with relief supplies. The incident has created a huge fuel spill in the ICW and the St. Lucie River:
Spoke with a friend who wants to remain anonymous. Local towing company was contacted to pull it off the grounding. But, the grounded boat draws 8 feet and was too hard aground to be successfully pulled from the sandbar. Titan Salvage has been contacted to do salvage operations. When other locals (non-professionals) tried to assist in rescuing crew members from the boat, they mentioned that the steel deck felt thin. The crew aboard also reported (to these good Samaritans) the boat had leaking shaft seals prior to grounding. The boat is now starting to roll over with the low tide and waves.
Speaking with locals, the boat has been tied to a dock for over 10 years in the Okeechobee waterway near Indiantown. Here’s the information posted on the Facebook Page of the Martin County Sherriff’s department (October 27, 2015):
The Martin County Sheriff’s Marine Units, along with our Air Unit, are working to assist the United States Coast Guard with evaluating the size of a large fuel leak and debris field caused when a supply vessel headed to Haiti partially sunk. The 59-foot vessel began sinking sometime this morning near the crossroads, where the St. Lucie River and intracoastal waterway meet. You can see debris and fuel floating for miles along the waterways.
Last night, the Coast Guard removed the boat’s passengers, after declaring the vessel unsafe to sail. MCSO’s Marine Units, and Chief Pilot, Deputy Doug Newsom, have been working throughout the day pinpointing and collecting debris, which has been spotted floating for miles. That debris includes barrels, boxes of food, produce, and miscellaneous supplies. The vessel was reportedly part of a mission headed to Haiti.
The United States Coast Guard is leading the investigation into the incident. We will update you, as information becomes available. An aerial view from the MCSO Air Unit will be posted shortly.
The Martin County Sheriff’s Department Facebook post includes 23 photos of the grounding and fuel spill.