Riverbend Marine Service Auction

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bulk Carrier Grounded in Columbia River

By Mark Edward Nero

A vessel that grounded in the main shipping channel of the Columbia River during the morning of March 21 has been towed to the Port of Kalama, according to the US Coast Guard.

The 623-foot bulk carrier Sparna went aground at 12:16 a.m., in a narrow part of the river near Cathlamet, Washington. The vessel sustained serious and significant damage, including the flooding of two compartments.

The 10-year-old Panama-flagged vessel was laden with 218,380 gallons of high sulfur fuel and 39,380 gallons of marine diesel at the time of the grounding.

“The positive news so far is that responders have not observed any oil in the water,” Capt. Dan Travers, Coast Guard Captain of the Port for the Columbia River, said.

On March 23, the vessel was safely towed to a pier at the port with the assistance of two tugboats during a five-and-a-half hour journey.

The Sparna was fully loaded at the time and headed to Japan with grain and was outbound in the Columbia River with a river pilot still onboard when it ran into trouble. The vessel then activated its “Vessel Response Plan,” which is required of all large vessels transiting the Columbia River for pollution contingencies.

Under the response plan, the Maritime Fire & Safety Association and Clean Rivers Cooperative deployed response vessels, boom and personnel. Incident Management Division responders from Coast Guard Sector Columbia River met Clean Rivers personnel in Cathlamet for what the Coast Guard says was “a seamless, coordinated response.”

The cause of the incident is under investigation, according to the USCG.