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Tugboat Gets Stuck Near St. Michael

A 66-foot tugboat that spent the summer dredging in Nome got stuck on some rocks 2 miles outside of St. Michael at a place called Rocky Point. Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Responder John Ebel says there were two people on board the the Captain Hendren who made it to shore safely on Friday and without injuries.

Ebel says the tugboat remains stuck fast on the rocks. The DEC is working with the tugboat owner Lee Hendren from Portland and the Coast Guard to be sure there’s a proper plan implemented to take care of the vessel. Ebel says there is no current fuel or lubrication leakage, but they do expect the owner to remove the 600 gallons of diesel fuel and remaining operational fuel. However seas are not expected to calm until the end of the week.

When it comes down to the vessel itself and what do we do with a vessel stricken on a rock – we’ll work through that component as the situation develops. The safety of all of the people involved with any response activity is our primary concern.

Neither the DEC or the Coast Guard have men or boats headed to the location, however an Alaska State Trooper was expected to respond and assist today.

St. Michael Village Police Officer Nick Lupsin said a resident called his office on Friday afternoon and told him about a boat grounded on the rocks. Immediately after, he said a search and rescue team got together. Officer Lupsin says it was impossible for them to travel out to retrieve the two men stuck on the vessel.

When we got there there was the tugboat and there was a life raft that was tied to the tugboat and it was pretty windy. We had a north wind and it was very shallow. So we waited about two hours.

Lupsin says after two hours, the men cut the line on the life raft and drifted to shore.

When they got to the rock shoreline, they pulled them out. They were wet. One was very, very cold so what they did was lie them into sleeping bags to warm up – take all their wet clothing off. From there we sit there for a while while they warm up.

At about 4:30 in the afternoon the two men from the vessel were taken to the St. Michael health clinic for treatment – both were uninjured.

With the harbor closing in Nome later this week, owner Lee Hendren says the boat was headed toward St. Michael to dock for the winter.

I want to tell everybody in St. Michael thank you very much for helping the men out and help them get safe. And the State Trooper – I want to thank him also. I know the men were real grateful because of it.

Lee Hendren owns Hendren Towboat in Portland, Oregon. The extent of damage to the Captain Hendren is not yet known. He is not sure whether the vessel will be suitable to return to Nome for next summer’s mining season.