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Search under way for tugboat sunk in Galveston Harbor

GALVESTON, Texas (Tribune News Service) — A search was underway Thursday for a tugboat that sank over the weekend in Galveston Harbor and disappeared, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The tugboat Luke,  25-foot-long vessel that rose about 30 feet, was moored at Pier 27 Sunday when it sunk during a rainstorm, Lt. Samuel Dansus said.

Dansus said security cameras show that the Luke sank gradually over about four hours during the night, when no one was aboard.

The current was moving at about 2 knots, or about 2.3 mph, and could have moved the small vessel, he said.

Port Director Michael Mierzwa said the tug is owned by JW Kelso, which was using it to work on moorings.

T&T Marine, based in Galveston, was hired to search for the boat using side-scanning sonar and other equipment from the Pelican Island Bridge to the end of the South Jetty that protects the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel, Dansus said.

Ships with drafts greater than 30 feet are barred from coming within 20 yards of Piers 16 through 31 until the tug is found, he said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making a survey of the entire harbor that was to be completed late Thursday to ensure that it was safe for navigation, Dansus said.

The Coast Guard's marine casualty accident investigation unit is investigating the sinking, he said.

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