A 53-foot fishing vessel that ran aground this week off the New Jersey coast, with its two occupants having to be airlifted to safety, is deteriorating with 500 gallons of diesel fuel on board.
The Coast Guard said the wooden vessel ran aground late Wednesday at Barnegat Inlet Jetty in Ocean County. A passenger aboard the vessel, the Bay of Isles, contacted watch-standers at the Coast Guard’s Barnegat Light station to report that the ship was taking on water.
The Coast Guard determined it could not reach the fishermen by boat. Instead, it flew a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Atlantic City.
The helicopter crew hoisted the two and flew them back to Atlantic City. Neither was injured and their identities were not released.
On Friday afternoon, the Coast Guard said it was monitoring the vessel for potential pollution as it started deteriorating in the surf.
If the fuel leaks, it could pollute the area, and the Coast Guard has placed people on the scene. It was deemed not safe to remove the fuel or place a containment boom because of conditions. There was no visible pollution Friday.
“We are closely monitoring the situation, and working with the owner of the vessel, a salvage company, and state and local agencies,” said Lt. Cmdr. Fred Pugh, chief of incident management for Sector Delaware Bay. “The protection of our waterways in the region is our foremost priority in this case.”