Seven Rescued 30 Miles Off Resort’s Coast

OCEAN CITY — Seven people were hoisted from a disabled tugboat adrift about 30 miles off the coast of Ocean City early Saturday morning.

Around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, a crewmember aboard the tugboat Legacy notified watch-standers at the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region that while towing a 290-foot barge from New Jersey to Guyana, a 1,000-foot towing line became entangled and fouled the vessel’s starboard propeller. The tugboat continued to make way on one engine when the towline snapped, according to reports.

The crew attempted to regain tow of the barge, but the line became entangled in the port propeller, disabling the vessel. The tug’s crewmember advised the Coast Guard the Legacy was inoperable and that the crew was making preparations to abandon the ship, according to reports.

The 154 Coast Guard cutter Lawrence Lawson, home-based in Cape May, was already underway and diverted to the incident to help. Once on the scene, the cutter’s crew was unable to get near the disabled tug or barge because of on-scene weather and concern that the loose tow line beneath the water’s surface would foul its vessel’s propellers. The Coast Guard cutter Lawrence Lawson maintained its station and provided critical assistance to responding units and ensured the safety of the tugboat’s seven crewmembers.

Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capitol Region then launched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Station Atlantic City and an MH-60 Jayhawk crew from Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina to hoist the seven crewmembers from the vessel.

After all seven crewmembers were safely hoisted, the air crews transported them to the Ocean City Municipal Airport and no injuries were reported. The tug’s crew activated the vessel’s emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) and the Coast Guard MH-60 deployed a self-locating data marker buoy for Coast Guard watch-standers to track the tug and barge while awaiting commercial salvage efforts.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.