Cargo ship runs aground off St. Thomas

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ST. THOMAS - A 190-foot Panamanian-flagged cargo ship ran aground between St. Thomas and Great Saint James about 10 a.m. Friday morning, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials.

Officials did not say how long the ship was stuck, but it ultimately refloated with the rising tide, just off Current Cut, according to Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad.

There was no sign of oil pollution leaking from the vessel, and the vessel does not present a threat to the environment at this time, according to a prepared statement issued Friday by Castrodad.

The vessel, named the Sabre Spirit, was transiting from Tortola to Charlotte Amalie with a 12-man crew. No injuries were reported.

The vessel is a "roll-on, roll-off" ship designed to carry wheeled cargo, such as automobiles, trailers and similar items. Castrodad did not know what specific cargo the ship was carrying.

Coast Guard marine casualty investigators are investigating the cause of the grounding.

Upon notification the ship was grounded, Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment and Boat Forces personnel from St. Thomas immediately responded and notified the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency of the developing situation, Castrodad said.

Sea Tow Virgin Islands, a boat tow company that often retrieves stranded boats and ships off St. Thomas, arrived on the scene and made temporary repairs to the Sabre Spirit, which allowed the vessel to be escorted into Crown Bay, where it currently is moored while further damage assessments are conducted, according to the Coast Guard.

At press time Friday, Coast Guard officials did not know how much water the ship took on, what the extent of the damage was or how long it would be out of commission.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email

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