Mv. Michelle Ann Sinks Near Baton Rouge

A towing vessel sank on the Lower Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, La., March 14, making it the second week in a row a vessel has gone down due to high water in Louisiana.

The U.S. Coast Guard received word around 11 a.m. March 14 that the mv. Michelle Ann, owned by DMC Towing, was in trouble at the Baton Rouge General Anchorage near Mile 226 on the Lower Mississippi River.

Video captured at the scene, which was published by The Advocate newspaper, seemed to indicate the Michelle Ann was pushing a single covered hopper barge when the towboat became tangled in the anchor chain of the Iolcos Unity, a bulk cargo ship.

“There were four crew members aboard the Michelle Ann, who reportedly escaped to a barge and were rescued by a nearby tug,” said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Brandon Giles.

The same video captured at least two Marquette towboats coming to the crew members’ aid, as well as a Shamrock Marine crew boat. Marquette Transportation Company Chairman and CEO John Eckstein released a statement following the incident.

“We are thankful that the crew of the Michelle Ann is safe and are proud that our mariners on the mvs. J. Andrew Eckstein and St. Phillip were able to respond quickly, leverage their training and help ensure the safety of their fellow mariners in this dangerous situation,” Eckstein said.

Following the incident, the Coast Guard issued a waterway closure from Mile 224.5 to Mile 226. The waterway was again open to navigation by later that evening, although the Baton Rouge General Anchorage remained closed.

The Coast Guard identified an oil sheen in the water near the site of the sinking. The Michelle Ann reportedly has a potential of 18,500 gallons of fuel on board. Due to river conditions, the Coast Guard and OMI Environmental were managing the spill from ashore.

The incident involving the Michelle Ann came just days after a barge carrying coal sank near Mile 153 and just a week after another vessel, the mv. St. Rita, sank near LaPlace, La. The St. Rita, owned by Marquette, was carrying five crew members, who all made it safely off the vessel before it sank.

The crews aboard a pair of vessels in the vicinity, the mv. Rod C and the mv. Roger D, saw the incident and immediately rendered aid to the five Marquette crew members. The Rod C and Roger D are operated by Plimsoll Marine, a Cooper Group company.

The Good Samaritan vessels transported the crew members of the St. Rita to shore. No injuries were reported to the Coast Guard.

Efforts to salvage the mv. St. Rita began Tuesday, March 12, and were expected to last about a week.