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SUFFOLK MAN MISSING AFTER TUGBOAT SINKS IN DELAWARE

Published: May 12, 2001
Section: LOCAL, page B1
Source: STEVE STONE THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT
2001- Landmark Communications Inc.

A Suffolk man was missing Friday night after a 115-foot, Norfolk-based tugboat capsized in the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, blocking the waterway, the Coast Guard said.

Four other crewmen aboard the tug Bay Titan and a fifth man on a barge it was towing were rescued by a passing boater. Three of the men were hospitalized, but were expected to be released soon. A search continued for the missing crewman, whose name was not released.

The Bay Titan, launched in 1970 and rebuilt in 1994, was towing a barge loaded with liquid sugar when the accident happened just before noon.

Lt. Peter Stinson of the Coast Guard's Rescue Coordination Center in Portsmouth said the tug was about 1,000 yards into the canal, having just entered from the Delaware River south of Wilmington, Del.

In essence - like a truck tractor and trailer - the tug and barge jackknifed.

``The captain had just shortened the tow (line) and was maneuvering to port,'' Stinson said. As the barge passed the stern of the tug, ``the line ran out and it pulled the tug over.''

Rescue boats from several agencies in addition to the Coast Guard were soon on the scene. But there was no sign of the missing crewman.

It was unclear whether he made it off the tug before it capsized and settled into the canal.

The man piloting the passing vessel that rescued the five men said he believed he saw a sixth man in the water waving his arms, but then lost sight of him, Stinson said. The crew of the tug said, however, that their missing mate had been in the tug's galley, three decks down, when the boat capsized.

Dive teams went down to the tug four times Friday in search of the missing man, said Sr. Chief Robert Ward, the command duty officer at the Marine Safety Office in Philadelphia.

``This is still considered a search and rescue mission,'' Ward said Friday night.

Another dive team, hired by Bay Towing Corp. of Norfolk, owners of the tug, is expected to go down to the vessel at 9 a.m. today. They will make another search for the missing man and assess what it will take to salvage the tug.

The tug has to be removed and the quicker the better, Ward said. For now, it is blocking the canal, forcing its closure to all commercial traffic. Only smaller pleasure craft are able to pass around it.

The barge was not damaged and was towed off and later picked up by the tug Baltimore.

Reach Steve Stone at 446-2309 or stone(AT)pilotonline.com Description of illustration(s):
COLOR PHOTO
BAY TOWING CORP. PHOTO Four crewmen aboard the tug Bay Titan, above,
and a man on a barge were rescued. The missing man's name was not
released.


This article is 2001- Landmark Communications Inc. and may not be republished without permission.

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