General II Runs Aground on Rocky Outcropping Outside Enighed Pond; No One Injured, Passengers Evacuated, Investigation Continues

Onboard the General II, passengers donned life jackets and waited for almost three hours to get off the barge.

Passengers who drove aboard the 3:30 p.m. General II barge on Sunday, December 5, at Red Hook, St. Thomas almost made it to the Enighed Pond Marine Facility on St. John when a loud noise shot through the air and brought the 92-foot car barge to a halt.

Instead of arriving at the dock on St. John, General II passengers would don life jackets and watch as crews tried to pull the barge off a reef before eventually being evacuated by private boats in the dark about two and a half hours later.

The barge hit a reef and rocky outcropping minutes after 4 p.m. just offshore of the entrance to Enighed Pond, less than a half-mile from where it docks.

None of the 31 passengers in the 14 cars aboard the vessel were injured and all were eventually evacuated to other vessels and transported to the dock at Enighed by 6:45 p.m. Shortly after, the General II made its way to the dock under its own power. Passengers collected their vehicles later that night or the next morning.


Private boats and other vessels responded when the General II hit a rocky outcropping just outside the entrance to Enighed Pond Marine Facility.

As U.S. Coast Guard officials continued investigating the cause of the grounding last week, officials from Boyson Inc., which owns and operates the barge, said the accident was caused by mechanical failure.

“The barge had passed USCG inspection the week before,” said Cheryl Boynes-Jackson, Boyson Inc. manager. “It was a mechanical failure. The mechanics are completing their investigation and they’ll let us know what they find.”

The captain of the vessel, Mario Josselin — who made headlines the week before when he was arrested for first-degree aggravated rape of a minor — submitted to and passed both a Breathalyzer test and urine sample for drug testing, according to Boynes-Jackson.

Josselin, who has had his captain’s license for five years and has been employed with Boyson Inc. for six years, was not on duty last week, explained Boynes-Jackson.

“Captain Josselin is not currently on duty right now,” Boynes-Jackson said on Wednesday, December 8. “We’re doing an investigation and after we get the report from the Coast Guard, we’ll have an idea then of what’s going to happen.”

As of press time, the General II remained in dry dock at Subbase, St. Thomas, as Boyson’s Mister B barge ran double runs to accommodate riders, Boynes-Jackson explained.

The grounding occurred in territorial waters and officials from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources’ Division of Fish and Wildlife were conducting assessments of the reef damage last week. Their findings, and the amount of any possible fines, were not available as of press time.

The hours between when the barge hit the reef and when the passengers were evacuated, however, were devastating for some passengers — who felt the rescue effort could have been more coordinated — while others never felt a worry.

“I was sitting in the front seat of my car and my son was doing homework in the back when we heard this loud noise and started rocking,” said one passenger aboard the barge, who wished to remain anonymous. “The cars were rocking back and forth and at first we all just stayed in our vehicles. Then everyone got out and I looked over the edge and could see the reef right there.”

“It was scary; the crew had no idea what they were doing,” said the passenger. “They told us to all get out of our cars, then they told us to all get back in our cars. No one called 9-1-1, so I finally did and they yelled at me.”

Instead of an organized rescue effort, the crew yelled orders and were unsure how to respond, according to the passenger.

“The crew did nothing to calm anyone down; all they did was yell at each other and us,” the passenger said. “The treatment they gave us was absurd. The rescue effort was a joke.”

“I kept thinking how incredibly dangerous it was,” said the General II passenger. “They had us standing outside of our vehicles in the back of the barge and if any of those vehicles had shifted, someone could have gotten seriously injured.”

Another passenger, however, painted a different picture of the scene onboard the General II after it went hard aground on the rocky outcropping.

“You just heard this metallic crunch and you knew what had happened,” said Lauren Mercadante. “The crew worked very hard to do everything they could to get us off the reef. They didn’t have the right equipment.”

“They had ropes they were using to try to pull us off the reef, but the ropes kept snapping,” Mercadante said. “Then they realized that wasn’t going to work so they had private boats come out and women and children first — as correct by maritime law — we all just got taxied back to the dock.”

For her part, Mercadante never felt in danger, she explained.

“We never felt that we were in any danger of sinking or that we were alone or that the crew didn’t know what they were doing,” said Mercadante. “They did a great job and they had a really positive attitude.”

Several private motor vessels eventually circled the barge, including a V.I. National Park boat, a dive boat and a water taxi, while a USCG helicopter flew overhead. No fuel or oil leaked from the vessel during the grounding, according to Boyson Inc. officials.

Once the tide rose fully, the barge was able to make it off the rocks and made it to the Enighed Pond Marine Facility dock under its own power by 6:45 p.m., according to Boynes-Jackson.

The Boyson manager apologized for the inconvenience caused by the accident and the company’s shortened barge schedule last week.

“We would like to thank everyone who assisted us at the time and we’d like to apologize to all of our customers for the unfortunate incident,” Boynes-Jackson said. “We hope that our customers will have patience with us until we can get the vessel back online and be able to resume our full service schedule.”