Drifting NTCL barge will likely spend winter in Beaufort Sea ice
It's becoming increasingly likely that a barge adrift in the Beaufort Sea will remain there as the area becomes covered in sea ice.
The 40-metre barge was heading to Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., when it broke away in Canadian waters during a storm last Monday.
The barge was returning to Tuktoyaktuk after delivering supplies to a remote site along the Canadian coastline. It is unloaded, although it is carrying 3,500 litres of light diesel in fuel tanks.
The U.S. Coast Guard says the barge's owner, the Northern Transportation Company Ltd., has made attempts to rescue the vessel, but the company can't find any available tugboats.
Most in the region are taken out of service during the winter season.
“There's no other maritime traffic up in that region for ships or any other vessels,” says Commander Shawn Decker with the U.S. Coast Guard, “so our response options became very limited due to the lack of available resources.”
Decker says there’s no way around the geography of the area.
“Therefore this barge is going to become stuck in the ice and we will track it.”
The Coast Guard says NTCL is assuring them that the vessel won't be compromised if it spends the winter locked in ice.
A Coast Guard plane will drop a GPS tracker on the vessel so its whereabouts will be known at all times.