|A barge container ship is towed to Port of Palm Beach on Sunday. While en route to Puerto Rico, several cargo containers fell overboard off the coast of Port Canaveral, Fla. U.S. Coast Guard photo.|
PORT CANAVERAL and WEST PALM BEACH, Florida - U.S. Coast Guard crews are responding to reports of multiple containers falling from a barge container ship off Florida's east coast between Port Canaveral and West Palm Beach on Sunday.
The U.S.-flagged, 136-foot Capt Latham was en route to Puerto Rico as it tugged the 340-foot barge Columbia Elizabeth when the crew aboard noticed several cargo containers hanging over the port side of the barge and believed that more had fallen into the water while in transit. The Capt Latham terminated their course towards Puerto Rico and diverted to Port of Palm Beach for further investigation.
A Coast Guard MH-65 helicopter crew from Air Station Miami and a crew from the Coast Guard Cutter Margaret Norvell responded to the report to assess the barge.
At approximately 3:00 p.m., the Columbia Elizabeth moored safely in the Port of Palm Beach. It was then determined that up to 25 containers were unaccounted for with an undetermined amount of which fell overboard. Several of the containers were confirmed to be carrying batteries. One of the containers washed ashore in Port Canaveral, Coast Guard officials say.
The Coast Guard is investigating the incident and plans to launch an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft to begin searching at sunrise.