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Grounded Ferry Spills 350 Gallons of Fuel

March 19, 2007 — Efforts continued Monday to salvage American Pride, a local passenger ferry that ran aground over the weekend on Triangle Reef, located off the coast of Frenchman's Bay on St. Thomas.
The ferry ran aground Saturday morning as it left the Charlotte Amalie Harbor en route to Tortola, according to a Monday afternoon news release from the U.S. Coast Guard office in San Juan. Passengers and crew members aboard the vessel — none of whom suffered injuries — were subsequently rescued.
However, the cause of the grounding remains unknown and is currently under investigation by the Coast Guard's marine-safety detachment unit.
On Sunday, the Coast Guard received reports that the fuel tank on the port side of the ferry had ruptured and released approximately 350 gallons of diesel fuel into the ocean. The ferry's starboard tank remains intact and currently holds another 350 gallons of fuel.
"The exact extend of the damage to the vessel's hull and to the coral reef will not be known until the vessel is refloated and a more comprehensive ocean-bottom survey is conducted," the news release says.
As of Monday afternoon, the ferry had not been removed from Triangle Reef in an effort to mitigate any more damage to the surrounding area and the vessel itself.
While the Coast Guard offices in San Juan were unresponsive over the weekend, one St. Thomas resident said he saw the incident, with similar incidents becoming a frequent occurrence.
According to attorney Tom Bolt, various vessels have not adhered to boundaries set up by the Coast Guard to keep watercraft away from the shoreline, rock formations and local coral reefs. "It's a problem that needs to be looked at," he said Sunday.
The Coast Guard release does not say exactly when the incident was reported or when responders arrived at the scene.
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