Coastguard Tug `Anglian Monarch' takes Drifting Tug and Barge under Tow

4 Sep 2006 09:15 AM

The Dover based Coastguard tug `Anglian Monarch' has been in action this afternoon after the tug `Cumbrae' towing an unmanned barge got into difficulties off Ramsgate earlier today.

The crew of the vessel reported in to Dover Coastguard at just after 9.00 a.m. this morning that they had a problem with the tow, and that an emergency tow wire had become lodged around the rudder under the towing vessel. The vessel was drifting at the time and Master of the vessel did not wish to use his propellers for fearing of fouling and exacerbating the situation. The `Cumbrae' had 6 crew aboard. The anchor had been dropped but this wasn't holding the vessel and she was still drifting just outside the shipping lanes.

The Agency's Counter Pollution Unit was informed and the Coastguard tug was sent to the scene. The `Anglian Monarch' arrived on scene at about 2.15 this afternoon to evaluate the situation.

Details of the drifting vessel were incorporated into the routine Channel Navigation Information Service broadcasts to alert other vessels of the `Cumbrae's' predicament.

Upon arrival the Coastguard tug slowly circled the drifting tug and tow to see what could be done and spotted what appeared to be black rope around the Cumbrae's' rudder. The tug had earlier attempted a reverse procedure to free herself but this had proved to be unsuccessful.

Colin Mulvana, Counter Pollution and Salvage Officer from the Agency said:

"We had various conversations during the afternoon both with the onshore contact for the tug and directly with the master as our concern was that as the evening drew in we would potentially have two `rogue' vessels drifting in what is the worlds busiest waterway.

"Despite their later efforts to free the tug from the rope around their rudder they were unsuccessful, and at just after 4.00 p.m. the `Anglian Monarch' took them under tow towards Dover and out of harms way. We have kept Dover Port Control informed of these developments.

"As the `Anglian Monarch' began to make way the 'Cumbrae' was able to restart its engines and is presently following the Coastguard tug which is towing the barge, which has now two people aboard from the rescue vessel.

"This incident reemphasises how essential these ocean going tugs are to the strategy of protecting the UK's coastline in ensuring drifting vessels or those not under command do not represent a threat to the coastline, or other shipping, in the very busy waters around our shores."