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HomeNewsLocal newsWrecked Cargo Ship Not Leaking Oil, Emergency Responders Say

Wrecked Cargo Ship Not Leaking Oil, Emergency Responders Say

The storm-battered path of Bonnie G before grounding just south of the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas. (Photo courtesy of marinetraffic.com)

The battered cargo ship grounded in the sea just south of Cyril E. King Airport appears not to be leaking petroleum, the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday.

Local and federal emergency response teams and the owner of the 195-foot Bonnie G were onsite to assess the vessel, which grounded after a wild course past Crown Bay before dawn Wednesday during high seas caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Philippe, officials said.

The 1981-built, diesel-powered supply ship was said to be carrying 13,000 gallons of fuel and approximately 250 gallons of lube oil. A Coast Guard helicopter didn’t see oil leakage Wednesday afternoon but did observe cars aboard the vessel sloshing around in the rough waves. The ship was carrying six cars, a truck, a trailer and two pallets of cargo.

A water-borne assessment Thursday morning confirmed the hull was oil-tight. Dive teams were further checking the hull Thursday as investigators tried to determine the cause of the mishap.

A dozen crew members abandoned ship in two life rafts at about 3:45 a.m. Wednesday as the Bonnie G began to take on water. They were rescued by a boat from the St. Thomas Coast Guard detachment and safely brought to Crown Bay without injury, officials said.

The Coast Guard was coordinating with local government partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration experts, and the ship’s owners, which contracted with National Response Corp. to assess and remove the oil and Playland Marine LLC to conduct salvage operations, officials said.

The Bonnie G’s owners since April 2020, Third Lady LLC, and management company, MMS Americas LLC, share a Palm Beach, Florida address. A person who answered the phone at MMS Americas said the owner was in St. Thomas to deal with the wreck but declined to pass along a message. An email to the company was not immediately replied to.

The Bonnie G left Christiansted at 6:41 p.m. Tuesday in stormy seas, bound for St. Thomas, according to the website vesselfinder.com. But the route became erratic as it approached St. Thomas Harbor from the east, according to information from the website marinetraffic.com.

The Bonnie G passed between Hassel Island and Water Island shortly after 3 a.m., passed Crown Bay, and back out to sea west of Honeymoon Beach. It abruptly turned about 2,000 feet southwest of the airport runway and started back toward Water Island before running aground.

The ship, designed to handle rolling cargo like cars, needs a minimum depth of roughly 10.8 feet to operate safely, according to the Boat Watch app.

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