The U.S. Coast Guard and four commercial tug boats this morning refloated a 528-foot freighter that ran aground near Skamokawa, Wash.

The Global Challenger grounded about 10 p.m. Thursday in the vicinity of Pillar Point Range at river mile 30 en route to Vancouver, Wash., to pick up a load of grain.

There were 258,836 gallons of heavy oil and 56,339 gallons of diesel onboard.

The grounding happened in the middle of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge, but there is no environmental damage, officials said. A response team was on standby in case a problem was discovered.

Lt. Tad Drozdowski, public information officer for the Marine Safety Office in Portland, said engineers calculated they had a 50-50 chance of refloating the freighter at high tide, which was just after 10 a.m.

"(The freighter) hit the sandbar so hard it came up out of the water so that the prop was actually out of the water," said Captain of the Port Paul Jewell, from the Marine Safety Office in Portland.

By hooking tugs up with lines and putting them in strategic positions, and scouring sand from underneath the vessel, personnel freed the Singapore-flagged ship.

Had initial methods not worked, a second option was to pump off some of the fuel to lighten the ship.

An investigation team from the Marine Safety Office in Portland is looking into the cause of the accident.

"It missed a turn, and everything else is under investigation," Drozdowski said.

The ship had been moving at 14 knots and ended up 130 yards out of the channel.

The boat is on its way lunchtime today to Longview, Wash., to check for damage to its hull.

There are no reported injuries to the Chinese crew.


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