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Line Snaps, Leaving Crippled Ship Adrift

The towline being used to drag the crippled container ship Hyundai Seattle into port snapped in a storm off Washington’s coast, leaving the disabled vessel adrift in 20-foot seas Sunday.

The steel cable linking the 797-foot ship to an oceangoing tugboat broke in heavy seas Saturday when the vessels were about 150 miles west of Cape Flattery in Canadian waters, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Mike McGahran said.

The crew of the tug Smit Singapore had been hoping to reattach the towline in calmer conditions Sunday, “but the weather’s pretty nasty right now,” McGahran said at midday.

When the towline snapped, it recoiled and hit the tugboat’s chief mate, cutting his leg and breaking his collarbone. He was airlifted by the Canadian Coast Guard to Victoria General Hospital in British Columbia for treatment. Officials at the Victoria Search and Rescue Coordination Center declined to release his name.

The Hyundai Seattle had been scheduled to arrive in Port Angeles early Sunday for a Coast Guard inspection to ensure it meets safety and environmental requirements before proceeding Seattle to off-load its cargo.

The latest troubles mean the ship will be at least a day late, said U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Craig Peterson.

The Greek-flagged Hyundai Seattle, operated by Hyundai America, was disabled off the Aleutians by an engine-room fire Dec. 9. The 27 crew members were rescued unharmed by the Coast Guard cutter Munro on Dec. 12. xxxx

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