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Press Release | Oct. 5, 2023

Coast Guard, partner agencies establish Incident Command following vessel grounding in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Correction:  Editor's Note:  Previous version of news release was corrected to include photos and reflect Department of Planning and Natural Resources in the second paragraph, and 700 gallons of lube oil in the seventh paragraph.

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands – The Coast Guard has established an Incident Command at Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment St. Thomas and at Coast Guards Base San Juan, Thursday, to oversee vessel grounding response efforts in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Coast Guard is coordinating with local government partners, including Department of Planning & Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration experts, as well as the responsible party, to create a pollution mitigation and removal plan for the grounded cargo vessel Bonnie G.  

The National Response Corp. is the oil spill removal organization contracted by the responsible party, who also contracted Playland Marine LLC to assist with both pollution and salvage operations for the Bonnie G.

Following a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aerial assessment of the grounding site with embarked Coast Guard pollution response personnel, Wednesday afternoon, and a surface assessment by a Coast Guard Boat Forces Detachment St. Thomas, Thursday morning, the Bonnie G appears to be stable, and no signs of oil pollution were visible in the water. Coast Guard responders will continue to monitor the situation.

Additional response efforts planned for Thursday include Playland Marine personnel conducting further assessments, including depth soundings of the grounding site, and identifying risk and safety measures that may need to be put in place. A preliminary staging area has been identified and plans are underway for a dive team to conduct an underwater assessment to evaluate the sub-surface area surrounding the vessel and identify any damage to the vessel’s hull. Trained responders are being activated as needed, while the Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the incident.

“Conducting a safe operation and protecting the marine environment are the main priorities for this response,” said Capt. José Díaz, Incident Commander for the Bonnie G grounding and commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “Our goal is to remove this threat from the local waterway as safely and as soon as possible, and in the process keep our local partners, government officials and the public informed of ongoing efforts and progress throughout the response.”

The Bonnie G is reported to have approximately 13,000 gallons of fuel and approximately 700 gallons of lube oil onboard. Additionally, the vessel was carrying six cars, a bucket truck, a semi-truck rig, a trailer and container, two forklifts, a general-purpose lift as well as two pallets of cargo.

The Bonnie G, a 195-foot Vanuatu-flagged “ro-ro” cargo vessel, ran aground Wednesday morning, approximately half a mile south of the Cyril E. King airport in St. Thomas. All 12 persons aboard the vessel were rescued, and no injuries were reported to the Coast Guard.

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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