Towboat Catches Fire Near Greenville, Miss.

The mv. Leland Speakes, a twin-screw towboat with a retractable pilothouse built by Jeffboat in 1967, caught fire February 21 on the Lower Mississippi River near Greenville, Miss., the Coast Guard reported last week.

Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River reported it received word around 7:20 a.m. February 21 that the Leland Speakes, owned by Jantran Inc. of Rosedale, Miss., was adrift and aflame. The vessel measures 154 feet by 44 feet and is rated at 5,000 hp.

Towboats in the area that responded included the mv. Gabe Gattle, part of Terral RiverService’s fleet, Wepfer Marine’s mv. Maggie Leavell and ACBL’s mv. Carl Cannon, among others.. The Leland Speakes’ crew took refuge on neighboring towboats, while those other crews caught the Leland Speakes and its 21 dry-cargo barges.

“Towboats gained control of the vessel and pushed it aground at Mile 509,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.

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The Coast Guard said there were no reports of hazardous material aboard the barges and that the Leland Speakes was carrying an estimated 80,000 gallons of fuel on board. During the initial response, the Coast Guard imposed a waterway restriction between Miles 500 and 520.

There were no reports of injury and no reports of pollution.

In a statement, Jantran officials reported the crew was safe and offered thanks to the responding vessels for their prompt assistance.

“The crew was evacuated and is currently safe aboard the mv. Gabe Gattle,” the company said in a statement. “The crews of the mv. Gabe Gattle, Maggie Leavell and Carl Cannon are to be commended for their efforts in assisting with emergency operations involving the crew, vessel and tow. We are extremely grateful for our industry partners Wepfer Marine, Terral RiverService, Western Rivers Boat Management, ACL and Marquette for equipping their employees and vessels with safety and emergency training that allowed their vessels to lend immediate assistance.”

The cause of the incident is under investigation.