Intracoastal Waterway reopened following salvage of sunken rock barge

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Barge was torn apart after towboat tried to break free following grounding. (USCG Photo)

The U.S. Coast Guard reported Friday that it had reopened the Intracoastal Waterway near Berwick, Louisiana, to vessel traffic after completion of salvage operations involving the rock barge, ACL 01700 which sank after a grounding on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway near Mile Marker 99 in Berwick, La.

The barge was one of six being pushed by the towing vessel Miss Odessa which grounded and then tore the barge apart as it attempted to break free.

“We have been grateful for the patience, understanding, and cooperative spirit of our industry partners as we all work to resolve this unfortunate event as quickly as possible,” said Cmdr. Heather Mattern, commanding officer, Marine Safety Unit Morgan City. “Industry has been coming to us throughout the week offering ways we can work together and assist our teams in clearing up what has become a heavily backlogged waterway. Our priority now is to restore normal vessel traffic flow to the critical waterway safely and efficiently.”

Working in conjunction with senior industry partners and members of the area Marine Transportation System Recovery and Safety Committee, a Marine Transportation System recovery plan was developed to expeditiously restore the waterway to normal operation and clear the queued backlog of commercial traffic.

With the assistance of local towing vessel companies and through coordinated control of vessel movement by Vessel Traffic Service Berwick Bay, the Coast Guard estimates it will be able to restore the waterway to normal traffic within the week.

The vessel queue as of 1:15 p.m., Friday, was 26 tugs and 54 barges southbound, 107 tugs and 296 barges westbound, 87 tugs and 262 barges eastbound, and 4 tugs and 16 barges northbound.

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