Three Towboats Sink On Illinois River

The Coast Guard responded to three vessels that sunk on the Illinois River near Hardin, Ill., on July 7.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River received a report Friday of three towboats and a deck barge that were tied together and began taking on water at Mile 21 on the Illinois River.

The sinking towboats held approximately 4,850 gallons of diesel and oil. Sector Upper Mississippi River dispatched personnel to work with the towboat company to minimize potential environment impact.

The boats were the 650 hp. twin-screw Mary Fern, built in 1978 by Inman Marine of Batchtown, Ill.; the twin-screw, 800 hp. Mary R, built in 1964 by Joseph P. Reynolds, Jr. Wilmington, Ill.; and the twin-screw, 800 hp. Teddi B, also built by Inman Marine in 1989.

All three boats were owned by West Point Marine of Batchtown until its owner died unexpectedly last year, when the boats were purchased by Wayne B. Smith.

Coast Guard officials conducted 11 miles of shoreline assessment and oversaw 1,500 feet of oil and fuel absorbing boom deployment to create a collection point to contain any discharge.

Smaller sheen-producing quantities of unrecoverable product have been substantially contained by what the Coast Guard said was an “aggressive booming strategy.”

“While ensuring responder safety is always paramount, minimizing any potential environmental impact is a clear goal of the salvage effort,” said Capt. Scott Stoermer, commander of Sector Upper Mississippi River. “I am encouraged by the committed effort of the vessels’ owner.”

This incident, considered a major marine casualty by the Coast Guard, is under investigation.

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