Freighter aground on coral reef off Florida Keys
February 3, 1997
MIAMI (CNN) -- A 400-foot container ship ran aground Monday in the Florida Straits, 120 feet into the only living coral reef in North America.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeff Hall said nothing was leaking from the ship. He said an attempt would be made to refloat the ship if inspection teams find it seaworthy.
The Liberian-registered vessel Houston was en route to Spain from Houston, Texas, when it ran aground in the National Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary was created in 1990, just a year after three ships ran aground on the reef within 18 days, destroying precious living coral.
Eyewitnesses said the Houston was stuck in water about 30 feet deep, about 12 miles southeast of Key West. A U.S. Coast Guard official said the ship was carrying "general cargo." The Coast Guard had a patrol boat surveying the situation and planned to fly over the scene with a helicopter.
Just last week the state of Florida approved a plan that allows the federal government to manage the sanctuary. The plan makes 19 small areas in the Florida Keys off limits to fishing starting July 1.
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