A tug is pushing a tow made up of two barges, each containing cargo. At approximately 0300 hours, the tug’s bilge alarm sounds. When the crew investigates, they find that the tug is taking on water after apparently having struck a submerged object. The tug’s captain advises the Coast Guard of both the incident and the observed damage. The Coast Guard then notifies a private rescue vessel called the Sea Tow. Before any of the rescue units could arrive, the captain of the tug beaches his vessel and the two barges in the tow and shuts down the tug’s engines. The Coast Guard arrives at about 0330 hours. The Sea Tow arrives at approximately 0415 hours. Initially the Coast Guard places pumps aboard the tug but they are unable to keep up with the flooding. After the Sea Tow arrives, its master offers assistance but the captain of the tug asks what the price for this assistance would be. The Sea Tow’s master says, “We’ll worry about it later.” The captain of the tug then tells the Sea Tow to do whatever is necessary to save his vessel. The Sea Tow had previously charged the tug for salvage work in the past on an hourly rate basis. Through the combined efforts of the Coast Guard and the Sea Tow, they are able to patch the vessel, stop the flooding, and refloat the tug. In the process, the Coast Guard damages the tug’s rudder. What are the rights and potential liabilities of: (1) the tug owner, (2) the cargo owner, (3) the Sea Tow, and (4) the Coast Guard. Why? Explain fully.
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