The Coast Guard is putting together a dive team to inspect an unmanned tugboat that sank Thursday off Kennebunk as it was being towed to Portland after a collision with another tugboat.

The divers also will look for eight 44-gallon plastic barrels of fuel that were on the deck of the Capt. Mackintire, which had an additional 4,400 gallons of fuel in its tank when it went down about 2 a.m. Thursday.

The Capt. Mackintire was being towed by the Coast Guard to Portland when the tug started taking on water and Coast Guard personnel cut the towline.

The tugboat had been damaged late Wednesday when it collided with the Helen Louise, another tugboat that was towing the Capt. Mackintire south to Maryland. Two crew members on the Helen Louise were unhurt.

Peter Fransson, a Coast Guard public affairs officer, said Saturday that he didn’t know when the divers would start inspecting the tug, which sank in 158 feet of water.

Fransson said an aerial search detected three fuel sheens in the area near Kennebunk, but the search was unable to verify that the sheens were emanating from the sunken tug. He said the sheens posed no environmental hazard to the shoreline.

Six of the plastic fuel barrels that were on the tug are white, one is red and one is blue. A light was attached to one of the barrels before they sank, to aid in their recovery, Fransson said.

Anyone who finds fuel barrels in the area should avoid handling them and report them to the Coast Guard command center in South Portland at 207-767-0303.

The two tugs were en route from Bar Harbor to Annapolis, Maryland. After the collision, the Helen Louise was escorted by the Coast Guard without incident Thursday to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: bquimby

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