The Coast Guard quickly took control of a situation last Sunday that could have spelled disaster for the northern and central coasts of Oregon. The Coast Guard responded quickly to a report that the 648-foot, car carrier Morning Spruce had lost engine power 12 miles southwest of the Columbia River bar, leaving the vessel adrift in 12-foot seas. The vessel was carrying over a half-million gallons of heavy oil, diesel and lube oil. The Coast Guard Captain of the Port issued an order directing the owner of the Morning Spruce to immediately hire tow vessels to tow the ship back into safe harbor.
Engine power was restored around 3:30 p.m. Sunday and the Coast Guard monitored the progress of the vessel, escorted by the tug Kokua, as it cleared the Columbia River bar. The Kokua and Morning Spruce were joined by another tug, the Vancouver, for the transit to Portland.
Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Portland conducted an inspection of the Morning Spruce Tuesday, revealing numerous safety hazards, resulting in the detention of the vessel at the port. The safety hazards included excessive oil in machinery spaces, inadequate patches made on the vessel’s fire-main piping, heavy hydraulic oil leaks and inadequate fire control boundaries. The control action will remain in effect until the violations are corrected and verified through follow up inspections, according to a Coast Guard news release.