Barge Cleared, GIWW Reopened

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway reopened to navigation February 7, less than five days after a vessel ran aground near Berwick, La., leaving a loaded hopper barge damaged and blocking the waterway.

Vessel Traffic Service Berwick Bay received a report around 10 p.m. February 2 that the mv. Miss Odessa, which was pushing six hopper barges loaded with aggregate, had run aground while transiting the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) near Mile 99.

By February 6, salvage operations were well underway to remove 1,600 tons of aggregate from the waterway. The salvage contractor was working to remove all the gravel from the sunken barge and planned to begin removing the barge from the waterway the following day. As of February 6, the queue had swelled to more than 190 towing vessels and 560 barges.

By February 7, the damaged barge and aggregate had been removed from the channel and the Coast Guard reopened the waterway to navigation with restrictions. According to a Marine Safety Information Bulletin released that day, Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) Berwick Bay opened the waterway to eastbound and northbound traffic only during overnight hours, with westbound and southbound traffic moving during daytime hours (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Northbound tows were restricted to a minimum speed of 3 mph.

VTS Berwick Bay required northbound and southbound tows transiting the Morgan City Triple Span bridges and westbound tows entering the GIWW at Mile 98.5 to have a maximum tow length of 600 feet. Southbound tows 400 feet and above were required to use an assist boat through the three bridge spans.

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