Rescue Tugboat, Barge Dock in Wilmington

The rescue tugboat Justine Foss
The rescue tugboat Justine Foss

JANUARY 19, 2006 -- The Coast Guard has suspended the search for a victim of a tugboat disaster off the coast of Cape Fear. Three people died after the tugboat Valour sank.  Two others are in the hospital.

The tugboat started taking on water and sank about 37 miles off the Cape Fear coast in the Frying Pan Shoals area Wednesday. The cause is still under investigation, but the National Weather Service says waves were about 12 feet at the time.

The Valour was carrying a crew of nine when it went down in rough seas. The tugboat Justine Foss  was in the area when the distress call went out and was able to pick up the surviving crewmembers.

The Justine Foss also played a second key role in the operation. Wednesday afternoon it was successfully hooked up to the barge the Valour  had been towing. The Coast Guard says that should keep the barge's load of petroleum safe. The two vessels docked in Wilmington Thursday evening.

The barge will receive a complete damage assessment before it returns to operations. The Coast Guard's preliminary assessment did not find any damage to the barge and there is no indication of any loss of cargo from the barge.

The names of the crewmen were released Thursday.


  • Chief Mate Fred Brenner from MD
  • Chief Engineer Richard Smoot from OH
  • AB/Tankerman Ron Emory from DE


  • Capt. Michael Lynch from MA
  • 2nd Mate Jim Garnett from NY
  • Asst. Engineer Lou Gatto from FL
  • AB/Tankerman Earl Sheppard from PA
  • AB/Tankerman James Hamilton from FL
  • Cook Jay Templet from MS

Maritrans, the company that owns the Valour, says it is not preparing any cleanup efforts unless the Coast Guard deems the area is dangerous. They cannot determine right now if they'll be able to pull the sunken tugboat from the water.