PADUCAH, Ky.—The Coast Guard approved a salvage plan,
Friday, to remove both the Foss Maritime-owned supply ship Delta Mariner and a section of the
Eggner Ferry Bridge that remains on its bow following an allision a week ago.
[Edit: The Coast Guard reported on Monday afternoon that the Delta Mariner, in a "significant milestone," was approved for transit to a safe harbor roughly one mile down the Tennessee River and has been relocated.]
Salvage operations began this past weekend. The contract for
leading the salvage effort has been awarded to T&T Bisso out of Houston.
Foss Maritime, owner of the Delta Mariner, has brought in numerous support
vessels and technical salvage equipment in anticipation of debris removal
operations. Mainstream Commercial Divers, of Murray, Ky., is among the companies helping with establishing the underwater condition of the vessel.
“The Coast Guard is working closely with Foss Maritime to
ensure the safest and most efficient salvage of the ship,” said Cmdr. Claudia
Gelzer, commanding officer of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Paducah, in a statement.
“The company is cooperating fully and bringing the appropriate resources to
bear in support of the operation. The goal is to free the ship from the bridge
span debris and assess damages so it can be repaired and put back into
According to reports, the Delta Mariner’s entire crew of 16
will remain onboard during salvage operations. Local television station WPSD offers a thorough report on the situation, including commentary from Foss VP Scott Merritt.
The Coast Guard has been enforcing a safety zone from mile
marker 41 to mile marker 43 on either side of the bridge on the Tennessee River
to protect the public from the damaged bridge and stricken ship since Jan. 26,
2012. The river was opened to commercial traffic on Jan. 28, 2012,
with speed restrictions.
The Coast Guard Cutter Obion and a 25-foot Response
Boat-Small and crew from MSU Paducah remain on site to ensure safety of salvage
operations. The Coast Guard is working closely with the Army Corps of
Engineers, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Kentucky
Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and Marshall County Police.
Sen. Rand Paul has promised to use every avenue at his
disposal to expedite the replacement of the Eggner Ferry Bridge.
It remains impassable at this time and for the foreseeable future. However,
Land Between the Lakes, a national park run by the US
Forest Service, did offer some 1,900 residents the free opportunity to see the bridge close up during the beginnings of salvage operations this weekend.
Land Between the Lakes remains open for business despite the bridge closing.