Salvage work has begun on a barge filled with raw bulk cement that sank in January at Upper Mississippi Mile 51.8, near Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley has instituted a safety zone between Mile 50 and Mile 52 that limits transit in the area to one way and calls for using the slowest safe speed and avoiding meeting/overtaking. Additionally, a caution area for the sunken barge has been added to the Inland Electronic Navigational Chart, and all work is taking place behind a red buoy line.
The work site is just east of the center of the channel and requires cranes placed on barges. At times, a jet of water shoots into the air like a fountain as part of the hydraulic lift operation. The location is just upstream of the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge and clearly visible from a riverfront pedestrian path along the Cape Girardeau floodwall, so it has gotten quite a bit of interest from the walkers passing by and as well as local television and newspaper media.
The ACL-00113, owned by American Commercial Barge Line, sank January 15 while in tow of the mv. Leonard L. Whittington, said Lt. John J. Nolan IV, prevention department head at the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit in Paducah, Ky.
Okie Moore Diving & Marine Salvage is in charge of the salvage. Preparation work began September 9 with salvage operations beginning September 17. The barge and concrete are to be hydraulically hammered into manageable pieces and then lifted above the water level for disposal, Nolan said. He added that the period between the sinking and the beginning of the salvage work was extended because of the longer than normal high-water season making the water depth and velocity of the current unsafe for divers and equipment to operate.
Nolan said October 21 that the salvage operation was expected to take an additional 14 to 30 days.
Caption for photo: An upbound tow moves past the site where Okie Moore Diving & Marine Salvage is working to salvage a sunken cement barge October 20 near the Cape Girardeau, Mo., riverfront at Upper Mississippi Mile 51.8. (Photo by Shelley Byrne)