Skip to content

E-24; Block Island Sound, Fishers Island, New York

Block Island Sound, Fishers Island, New York | 1985-Nov-22

Initial Notification: On November 22, 1985, at 1345, the tug Norseman, with the Tank Barge E-24 in tow, reported that the barge was taking on water. The barge was loaded with 20,000 barrels of Number 6 Fuel Oil. Fifteen minutes later, the E-24 was standing almost vertically with about 20 feet of the barge visible above the surface of the water. At the time of the incident, there was heavy rain, 5-6 foot seas, and winds from the east at 25 knots. The incident took place in an area known as "The Race", the passage between the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, which typically has severe rip tides and rough, unpredictable seas. On November 23 at 2250 the barge sank in a keel-up position in 185 feet of water. Approximately 15-24 barrels of Number 6 fuel oil was forced from compartment vents, and as much as 47 barrels of diesel fuel was lost from the pump room. The cargo compartments were not damaged during the sinking. Oil from the barge formed a slick measuring 0.5 miles long by 500 yards wide as observed on November 23. Cleanup of the Long Island shoreline began on November 24 and was completed by December 5. Approximately 1000 gallons of oily debris were recovered. Later releases of oil occurred during the salvage operations, but skimming equipment was on station and recovered most of that lost oil immediately. An estimated 225 birds were affected by the spill, with 75 of these recovered dead. Salvage of the barge without damaging the intact cargo compartments was the major concern. Due to heavy seas and limitations of equipment on scene, the exact position of the barge could not be determined and verified until December 19. On January 3, 1986, the USCG On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) federalized the case as the responsible party, Eklof Transportation Co., Inc. was unable to meet the deadlines imposed by the OSC for performing the hull survey and inspection. Evaluation, planning, and mobilization for the salvage operations took place from January 3 to May 4, 1986. The salvage plan was developed by the United States Navy Supervisor of Salvage (NAVSUPSALV) at the request of the OSC. The OSC staff report was completed on March 3, and detailed three salvage options determined by the NAVSUPSALV. After much deliberation, the OSC determined that the barge should be raised with its cargo intact. Salvage operations took place from May 5 to May 30, 1986. Approximately 235 gallons of oil were lost during the entire operation, of which 185 were recovered. The barge was inspected and in tow by the evening of May 29, and was moored at Mariners Harbor, Staten Island, New York by 1900, May 30. The E-24 was completely offloaded by June 11, 1986, and the case was closed. USCG district 1. Keyword: U.S. Navy Superintendent of Salvage (NAVSUPSALV), sinking, skimmers, boom, contingency plan, adverse weather conditions, salvage..

Incident Details
Products of concern:No. 6 Fuel Oil, Diesel Fuel
Total amount at risk of spill: 3,150 gallons
Latitude (approximate): 41° 13.90′ North
Longitude (approximate): 72° 1.30′ West