A renewed effort to raise a towboat sunk in a December collision near Memphis began Wednesday, as the Coast Guard established a unified command and restricted Mississippi River traffic around the safety zone.
The 184’x45’x11’7” William E. Strait, owned by Smithland Towing, Paducah, Ky., went down in 20’ of water after a Dec. 14 collision with the 105’6”x32”x8’6” Margaret Ann, owned by Magnolia Marine, Vicksburg, Miss.
Both vessels were attempting to negotiate a pass, but gauged the distance incorrectly and collided at mile marker 727, local news sources reported. No injuries were reported, and the Coast Guard boomed off the sunken towboat to capture any fuel leaks.
The unified command includes the Coast Guard, Western Rivers Boat Management, Paducah, Ky., which operates the Strait, and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. A salvage plan has been reviewed and the river is being restricted to one-way traffic between mile markers 726 and 728.
A small fleet of assistance includes McKinney Salvage & Heavy Lift Inc, Baton Rogue, La.; Big River Shipbuilders and Salvage Inc, Vicksburg, Tenn.; Lakeway, Tx.-based Environmental Safety and Health (ES&H); marine consultants Budwine & Associates Inc, Covington, La.; the Memphis Police Department; and a Coast Guard 25’ boat and crew.