Coast Guard Confirms Fuel Barge Still Drifting In Beaufort Sea

Officials have confirmed that the unmanned fuel barge wandering in the Beaufort Sea has still not returned to ground yet. It was revealed that a Coast Guard aircraft from Air Station Kodiak confirmed the location of the small Canadian barge on Friday. Whereas, Commander Shawn Decker announced that the barged is about 20 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, floating west at three miles per hour.

Mr. Decker stated that “right now, all of our computer drift models and after we actually saw it today, we are confident that it’s going to continue drifting past Prudhoe Bay, and it’s going to remain in open water for at least the next 12-24 hours.” It was explained that the barge broke loose from its tugboat in a storm at sea on Monday. Although the tug has since returned to an iced-in port in Canada’s Northwest Territory, the barge has not. Consequently, Decker says the Coast Guard is waiting to see whether the barge goes aground or gets stuck in winter sea ice before planning further response.

Decker clarified that there is very less chance of the vessel spilling its diesel fuel cargo, i.e. almost 950 gallons of it, even if it does hit the coast. He explained that “that part of the shoreline up there along the North Slope is fairly flat and it’s mostly gravel … so there’s not a lot of big jagged cliffs and rocks and things like that that could potentially puncture the fuel tanks.”

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