Two cargo ships collided in the Gulf of Mexico early Saturday and created a 15-mile fuel slick as they drifted, locked together, in an area studded with petroleum rigs.
The Coast Guard did not want to pull the ships apart because one of them, the Enif, could sink, said Petty Officer Tyler Johnson.
“It appears as if one of the ships is holding the other up,” he said. “Our biggest concern is that the wreckage might drift into some of the oil platforms.”
Tugs were brought in to stop the drift.
The Greek-flagged 750-foot Alexia apparently rammed the Enif, out of Singapore, on its port side. The Alexia was empty, while the 514-foot Enif carried 1,500 tons of steel.
Nobody was hurt in the 12:10 a.m crash, about 70 miles south of New Orleans. The cause of the collision was not immediately known.
Most of the Enif’s crew was evacuated, as were nearby oil rigs. All 32 members of the Alexia’s crew remained on board, and its engines were used to control the drift away from an oil rig.
About 10,000 gallons of fuel leaked from the Enif, which had about 70,000 gallons left in her tanks, Coast Guard Capt. Gordon Marsh said. The Alexia’s fuel was not leaking.
The Mississippi River was pushing the slick away from Louisiana’s fragile wetlands.