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Alaska is extremely fortunate in the appointment of Joe Balash.

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Casey Donald Nelson Sr., 88, died Nov. 30, 2017, in Anchorage. He was born Feb. 8, 1929, in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
2/16/2017
Tug, barge run aground Wednesday night

By NICK BOWMAN

Daily News Staff Writer

A tug and barge ran aground on Rosa Reef off the northeast end of Gravina Island at approximately 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or a major fuel spill in the incident.

The Samson Tug and Barge Co. tug Mariner was hard aground at Rock Point — across the Tongass Narrows from Totem Bight State Historical Park — its bow raised into the air and surrounded by oil boom, about two hours before a 9:33 p.m. low tide on Wednesday. 

Several other tugs — Amak Towing's Ethan B., Jennie B. and the Banner — responded to the incident, according to Shawn Richardson, Samson’s Ketchikan-based Southeast Alaska regional manager, to retrieve the barge and pull it into Ward Cove. The tugs and the Samson barge were approaching the cove by 10:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Mariner was expected to re-float when the tide allowed, Richardson said.

“We’ll bring the tugboat in alongside the barge sometime early in the morning and secure it,” he said.

Richardson said he couldn’t speculate on what caused the Mariner to run aground and that it was “for the Coast Guard and the captain to have that discussion.”

Chief Petty Officer Shawn Eggert with the U.S. Coast Guard in Juneau said on Wednesday that the cause of the grounding wasn’t immediately clear. The tug was perched between the Rosa Reef concrete marker and the Gravina shoreline at Rock Point. 

The tug can hold up to 30,000 gallons of fuel oil, according to Eggert. The barge can hold up to 40,000 gallons of No. 2 diesel, Eggert said, but it wasn’t immediately clear how much was onboard either vessel. Coast Guard Station Ketchikan was involved in the response on Wednesday.

The tug, barge and five crew members were on their way from Seattle on a gulf run up the coast, according to Richardson. Both he and Eggert said there were no reports of injuries after the incident.

There was a sheen of about 30 feet by 45 feet, according to Eggert, but “there was no information about what the sheen was or if it even was caused by this grounding.”

Both Alaska Commercial Divers and SEAPRO, Ketchikan’s oil-spill response organization, responded to the grounding Wednesday evening, Richardson said.