The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for two missing towboat crewmembers in the Mississippi River on Tuesday. The 64′ towing vessel Natalie Jean sank in the vicinity of mile marker 90.5 on Monday at New Orleans. The missing mariners are Malon Dawsey and Karl Prince. Creole Chief Inc., New Orleans, owns the Natalie Jean.
The search party covered approximately 101 sq. miles for more than 43 hours and found no sign of the men. Involved in the search were a Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew, Coast Guard Station New Orleans Response Boat-Medium boat crew, Coast Guard Cutter Barbara Mabrity, New Orleans Harbor Police, Plaquemines Port Authority, St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office, Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office, NOAA and the Corps of Engineers.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report at 9:43 a.m. Monday that the towing vessel Natalie Jean had capsized with three people aboard. The 2,000-hp, 70’x28′ good Samaritan vessel Earl Gonsoulin, owned by Lebeouf Bros. Towing, rescued one person, but the other two remain unfound. The name of the mariner who was rescued has not been released.
There is an estimated 600 gallons of fuel on board the Natalie Jean. The Coast Guard has not said whether any of the fuel is in the water. Navigation restrictions in the search area have been lifted, an agency spokesperson told WorkBoat Wednesday morning. The cause of the incident is under investigation.
One local television station is reporting that the Natalie Jean was pushing a barge along the river in very high water with a six knot current and collided with a ship at anchorage before sinking. The station, WWL-TV, also reported that the man rescued was the towboat’s captain.