It was a pleasant Saturday morning at 1022 hours in January, that changed dramatically upon getting a call from Captain John Shellenberger aboard the DONAL G. MCALLISTER. Captain Shellenberger informed me that the 800-foot bulk carrier CSL ARGOSY was aground just north of the Bay Bridge and that the DONAL G., KALEEN MCALLISTER and the ROBERT E. MCALLISTER had been dispatched to assist.
Unfortunately, tug power alone was not enough to float the vessel and it became necessary to lighter 20,000 tons of the iron ore from the ARGOSY to free her from her position in the mud. It was at this point that the resources of McAllister came to the rescue. Through the agent and the owners we began gathering assets to assist our customer in rescuing their vessel and its payload. With calls to Joe Benton in Philadelphia, Elliott Westall and Dean Fabian in Norfolk and Steve Kress in New York we soon mustered the necessary equipment and personnel to help our customer in their dire time of need. We had barges lined up, tugs to tow them and enough horsepower to assist as the situation developed.
As the operation began, the DONAL G. was tasked by the Coast Guard to standby the vessel as lightering assets were deployed. The MICHAEL J. MCALLISTER towed the Columbia Norfolk barge from Norfolk to the vessel to begin lightering the iron ore. Standing by with the DONAL G. was the rest of the Baltimore fleet and they were soon joined by their cousin from Virginia, the newly built tractor tug, GREGG. It was “Team Chesapeake” to the rescue. After nearly two days of lighterage operations the ARGOSY began to float again late Monday evening.
Just as the ARGOSY started to seek deep water, another ship was passing in the adjacent channel and our tugs and crews were put into action and responded flawlessly. We held the vessel in position and out of harms way while the ship passed and the anchor was heaved. Then, instead of the vessel steaming up the bay several miles to a turning basin, the Pilots were able to turn the vessel in her own length, within the confines of the channel, and proceed to the Annapolis anchorage for further inspection. In speaking with the Pilot Kevin Gugliotta onboard afterwards he noted that due to the power and maneuverability of our tugs he felt confident in their ability to perform this maneuver. This was the first time Captain Gugliotta had seen the newly designed and built 82’ GREGG class tractor tug and he was very impressed by the design, size and power of the tug.
Through the support of the McAllister organization and “Team Chesapeake”, we were able to assemble the necessary equipment and execute our plan, which served our customer when they needed our help the most. However, the most vital aspect of this plan was the rapid response, professionalism and commitment of the crews and our shoreside staff. This is what made the operation a success and we proudly salute you all. Thank you for a job well done!