Cargo ship runs aground off U.S. Virgin Islands, 12 people rescued

A Vanuatu-flagged “ro-ro” cargo vessel ran aground just south of the airport in St. Thomas.

The U.S. Coast Guard said the incident occurred Wednesday morning with the coast guard boat crew rescuing 12 people from the 195-foot Bonnie G that went aground off U.S. Virgin Islands.

As it is reported the crew was forced to abandon the vessel that was taking on water.

All 12 persons aboard the Bonnie G are safe and no injuries have been reported to the U.S. coast guard.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received VHF marine radio communication from the Bonnie G at 3:41 a.m., reporting the vessel was taking on water in the engine room and that the people onboard were abandoning ship onto two life rafts and a lifeboat.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan transmitted an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast to alert vessel traffic in the area.

Crewmembers at Boat Forces Detachment St. Thomas launched a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft to provide rescue assistance. Once on scene, the boat crew embarked all 12 of the survivors and transported them to Crown Bay Marina.

The Bonnie G is reported to have around 13,000 gallons of fuel and approximately 250 gallons of lube oil onboard. Furthermore, the vessel was carrying six cars, a truck, a trailer and two pallets of cargo.

The Coast Guard also notified the National Response Center and local authorities in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“This vessel grounding was a very close call and I commend our watchstanders and responding boat crew for their efforts rendering assistance to the people who were aboard the Bonnie G and bringing them to safe harbor,” said Capt. José E. Díaz, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “There is still much work ahead of us to investigate and learn the causal factors of this incident. One of our main priorities is to assess the pollution threat from this vessel and ensure risks are properly managed and potentially hazardous chemicals are removed as quickly and safely as possible to maintain and protect the pristine waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands.” 

Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment and response personnel in the U.S. Virgin Islands are working with the Bonnie G vessel company to assess the current pollution threat.

The Coast Guard is investigating the circumstances and causal factors of the incident.