Effort continues to raise barges on Ohio River

Nine barges remained sunk or stranded on an Ohio River dam at Louisville, Ky., after a Christmas night bridge allision, Coast Guard officials said.

The 128’x28.5’ towboat Debbie Graham was passing the Clark Memorial Bridge in the city, pushing 15 coal barges, when the allision was reported to watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley around 8:10 p.m. A week later the response is continuing between the Coast Guard, the Corps of Engineers Louisville district and towboat operator Tennessee Valley Towing Co., Paducah, Ky.

Six barges had been recovered, with nine still stuck at the McAlpine Dam and seven of those sunk. Water rising 3’ at the dam over New Year’s Day has complicated the salvage effort, and the partners are “working together to evaluate the ever-changing situation each day,” Coast Guard officials said. Tennessee Valley Towing has retained two salvage teams to raise the barges, and was developing a salvage plan to raise the barges as soon as possible.

The Coast Guard opened the Ohio River to vessel traffic from Twelve Mile Island to McAlpine Lock and Dam, but traffic is only permitted during daylight hours. 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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