Cargo on grounded tanker being transferred

February 24, 2009 4:07:08 AM PST
One-third of the cargo on a grounded 800-foot oil tanker had been transferred Monday evening to another vessel in an attempt to free the stranded tanker, Coast Guard officials said. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The cargo was being moved in hopes that the tanker, which ran aground 22 miles off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico sometime Friday, will become light enough and float again.

"We're taking into consideration the safety of the people and environment. We haven't really put a timetable on this. We're just taking it at a good pace until we get the ship floated," Coast Guard spokeswoman Renee Aiello said. She said there had been no reports of any injuries.

Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Galveston is overseeing the operations on the tank ship Yasa Golden Dardanelles, which ran aground while waiting for a pilot to guide it into the Houston Ship Channel.

There is no indication that its load of 621,000 barrels of low sulfur fuel oil has leaked or spilled, and the tanker is not blocking other ship traffic, Aiello said.

Approximately 83,000 barrels will be transferred from the tanker to a vessel operated by SPT, Inc., said Tim Tilghman with the Coast Guard.

Once the tank ship refloats commercial divers will perform an underwater hull inspection. Naval engineers and inspectors will also examine the tank ship before it enters port.

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