Update: According to Crowley Maritime Corp., the barge is under control and is headed to Port Clarence. Alex Sweeney from the Marine Operations Group, said that the weather south of Cape Prince of Wales had cleared enough that the tug was able to use an emergency tow line to connect to the barge. "Everything's fine now," Sweeney said.
A 173-foot barge carrying 140,000 gallons of fuel was adrift Wednesday in the Bering Strait near the shores of subarctic Alaska, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The barge, which broke loose Tuesday evening while in tow, was reported Wednesday to be about 11 miles north of Wales, a small Bering Strait village straddling the westernmost tip of the North American continent, about 53 miles east of Russia. According to the Coast Guard, the agency was contacted by the crew of the 82-foot Crowley tug Sinuk at 6:23 p.m. Tuesday. The Sinuk crew reported that while towing the barge, the line attached to it broke free in heavy weather.
A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules aircrew was directed to launch Wednesday morning to conduct an over-flight of the tug and barge. The aircrew arrived on scene at about 9:40 a.m.
The barge is expected to pass within eight miles west of Fairway Rock, which rises out the Bering Strait about 17 miles west of Wales and 216 miles northwest of Nome. It is reported that the barge is carrying about 140,000 gallons of fuel. Weather in the area Wednesday morning was reported as winds of 27 mph and 12- to 15-foot seas.
"The Coast Guard is working closely with the Crowley tug crew to direct and monitor the adrift barge," said Coast Guard Cmdr. Adam Tyndale, chief of response for the agency Anchorage sector, in a statement. "The tug crew is unable at this time to re-establish the tow due to weather, but they are standing by to re-establish it when weather permits."