ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands – A Coast Guard boat crew rescued 12 people, Wednesday morning, after they were forced to abandon the M/V Bonnie G that was taking on water and ran aground just south of the airport in St. Thomas.
All 12 persons aboard the Bonnie G, a 195-foot Vanuatu-flagged “ro-ro” cargo vessel, are safe and no injuries have been reported to the Coast Guard.
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received VHF marine radio communication from the Bonnie G at 3:41 a.m., Wednesday, reporting the vessel was taking on water in the engine room and that the people onboard were abandoning ship onto two life rafts and a lifeboat.
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan transmitted an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast to alert vessel traffic in the area of the ongoing distress and notified crewmembers at Boat Forces Detachment St. Thomas, who launched a Coast Guard 33-foot Special Purpose Craft to provide rescue assistance. Once on scene, the Coast Guard boat crew embarked all 12 of the survivors and transported them to Crown Bay Marina.
“This vessel grounding was a very close call and I commend our watchstanders and responding boat crew for their efforts rendering assistance to the people who were aboard the Bonnie G and bringing them to safe harbor,” said Capt. José E. Díaz, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “There is still much work ahead of us to investigate and learn the causal factors of this incident. One of our main priorities is to assess the pollution threat from this vessel and ensure risks are properly managed and potentially hazardous chemicals are removed as quickly and safely as possible to maintain and protect the pristine waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment and response personnel in the U.S. Virgin Islands are working with the Bonnie G vessel company to assess the current pollution threat. The Bonnie G is reported to have approximately 13,000 gallons of fuel and approximately 250 gallons of lube oil onboard, and the vessel was carrying six cars, a truck, a trailer and two pallets of cargo. The Coast Guard also notified the National Response Center and local authorities in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Coast Guard is investigating the circumstances and causal factors of the incident.
Reporting a hazardous substance release or oil spill takes only a few minutes. Contact the federal government's centralized reporting center, the National Response Center (NRC), at 1-800-424-8802. The NRC is staffed 24 hours a day by personnel who will ask you to provide as much information about the incident as possible. If reporting directly to the NRC is not possible, reports also can be made to the EPA Regional office or the nearest U.S. Coast Guard unit in the area where the incident occurred. In general, the EPA should be contacted if the incident involves a release to inland areas or inland waters. The Coast Guard should be contacted for releases to coastal waters, ports and harbors. The EPA or the Coast Guard will relay release and spill reports to the NRC promptly.
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