Coast Guard responds to diesel discharge from semi-submerged tugboat in Oregon Inlet

Published 6:15 am Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Coast Guard responded Monday to a discharge of diesel from a semi-submerged tugboat in the vicinity of the old Bonner Bridge in Oregon Inlet.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina received the report of a sheen by a 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew from Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet at approximately 10 a.m. It was reported to be leaking from the tugboat Miss Bonnie, which allided with the old Bonner Bridge on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 11:09 a.m.

After the allision, all eight people aboard the tugboat returned to shore safely and reported they had no injuries.

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The maximum potential for the discharge is reported to be 6,000 gallons; however, it is estimated 3,000 gallons were onboard. The responsible party has deployed 200 feet of sorbent boom and 175 feet of containment boom around the vessel and is scheduled to deploy secondary ocean boom Tuesday. They will conduct salvage operations once on-scene weather permits, according to information from the Coast Guard.

There have been no reports of impacts to wildlife at this time. The channel currently remains open to all vessel traffic.

The Coast Guard is working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Scientific support coordinator to identify the most likely trajectory of the discharged diesel to determine necessary mitigation strategies for the preventative impact to environmentally sensitive areas.

“Protecting the marine environment is a top priority for the Coast Guard,” said Capt. Bion Stewart, commander of Coast Guard Sector North Carolina. “We are overseeing the responsible party’s actions to mitigate environmental impacts resulting from the discharge and to remove the vessel when it is safe to do so.”

Involved in the response are Coast Guard Sector North Carolina Marine Safety Detachment, PCL Construction, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Scientific Support Coordinator, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and National Parks Service.

The cause of the incident is currently under investigation.


The diesel spill resulting from the semi-submerged tugboat Miss Bonnie, Nov. 18 in Oregon Inlet. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet