US Coast Guard

Published: Apr 08, 2014 4:07 PM EDT

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A 180-foot barge ran aground on Anna Maria Island after breaking free from a tug boat early Tuesday morning, according to the US Coast Guard.

Watchstanders received notification at 2:00 a.m. Tuesday, that the operator of a tugboat was having difficulty steering due to weather, and was unable to control the two barges he was pushing, about a mile west off of Longboat Key.

Watchstanders launched Coast Guard Cutter Hawk and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Station Cortez to assist.

The operator told watchstanders that he was able to anchor one barge; however, while attempting to gain control of the other, the line parted and the barge began drifting until it grounded on the beach at Anna Maria Island.

"It was imperative to safely remove the grounded barge before it severely damaged the beach or became a greater hazard to navigation," said Capt. Greg Case, commander of the sector. "I'm extremely proud of all the responders that quickly converged on scene to ensure the barge was towed to safety."

Coast Guard incident management personnel from the sector are on scene overseeing the operation, assessing any pollution concerns and continue to monitor the other anchored barge.