Barges break away after Ohio River bridge allision

A towboat pushing 15 loaded coal barges made contact with a bridge on the Ohio River in Louisville, Ky., Christmas night, triggering a breakaway that left nine barges stranded on a dam, Coast Guard officials said.

The 128’x28.5’ towboat Debbie Graham was passing the Clark Memorial Bridge in the city when the allision was reported to watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley around 8:10 p.m. On Thursday afternoon the response effort was continuing between the Coast Guard, the Corps of Engineers Louisville district and towboat operator Tennessee Valley Towing Co., Paducah, Ky.

Six barges were recovered, with nine still stuck at the dam and three of those capsized, according to the Coast Guard. The Ohio River was reopened to all vessel traffic from Twelve Mile Island to the McAlpine Lock and Dam.

Vessel movements were only permitted during daylight hours and with an assist vessel, which was stationed at McAlpine. The cause of the accident remains under investigation, according to the Coast Guard.

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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