Tow Restrictions Continue After Cement Barge Sinking

A barge sunk at Upper Mississippi River Mile 49.5 on May 8 could take roughly another three weeks to salvage.

The Coast Guard received notification from Excell Marine at 11:35 a.m. May 8 that a barge in a fleeting area had begun taking on water for unknown reasons.

The barge was filled with powdered cement. It broke away and sank in the channel.

“Right now it’s anticipated it could take up to 20-21 days, but they are making good progress on it,” Petty Officer 2nd Class Evan Dawson of Marine Safety Unit Paducah said on the salvage.

It is taking longer because the salvage crew from Okie Moore Diving & Marine Salvage is having to break up the barge and bring it up bit by bit using a crane instead of refloating it, he said. 

The salvage work began May 12.

The Coast Guard has put a safety zone in place between Mile 49 and Mile 50 with daytime and nighttime restrictions.

During the daytime, southbound tows of more than 8,000 hp. may push barges up to five wide, and tows from 5,000 to 8,000 hp. may push them four wide. Tows of less than 5,000 hp. may push barges up to three wide.

Northbound tows are restricted to no more than 30 barges and no more than five wide during the day, Dawson said.

At night, the maximum tow size for southbound barges is 20 barges, and the northbound size maximum is 25 barges.

The tug Jim H is on scene to handle passing arrangements and may be contacted via marine radio on channel 13. The Coast Guard also has both AIS electronic buoys and physical buoys in place.