JANUARY 19, 2006 -- After two days of drama at sea, a barge loaded with oil is secure in Wilmington. While that barge will remain at the port for a couple of days, the weary crew of a rescue tugboat stopped there for only a few hours. That crew saved the lives of six fellow sailors. The tug Justine Foss docked just long enough so the crew could have dinner and get debriefed by the Coast Guard. Then they headed back out to sea.
The Justine Foss answered the distress call of the tug Valour shortly before midnight on Tuesday. They rescued six members of the Valour's crew before the Valour sank in gale force winds about 40-miles off the Cape Fear coast. Three of the tug's crew died at sea. Those aboard the Justine Foss did not want to speak about their heroic efforts.
The Justine Foss also helped the Coast Guard secure the Valour 's barge that had been set adrift the night of the storm. That effort kept this human tragedy from also becoming an environmental disaster. The barge carrying more than 5-million gallons of petroleum was in danger of running aground in the Frying Pan Shoals area.
Thursday, the Justine Foss was one of three tugs that brought the barge safely to port. The barge will undergo inspections for a couple of days before it can leave for the Norfolk area. The Coast Guard commander who coordinated the rescue efforts is proud of the teamwork on all ends. Captain Dean Lee says a dive crew will be sent down to the Valour to recover the body of a sailor still on board and decide the feasability of raising the tug.
The Coast Guard released the names of the dead crewmen from the Valour . They are Fred Brenner from Baltimore, Richard Smoot from South Point, Ohio and Ron Emory from Milford, Delaware.