Intracoastal waterway in Louisiana is reopened

On February 6th the salvage operation of rock barge ACL 01700, which sank after the grounding accident of the Miss Odessa on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway near Mile Marker 99 in Berwick, Louisiana, was underway, and the waterway was cleared at the weekend.

The section of waterway had been closed since Sunday night February 2nd when a towing vessel pushing six rock-filled hopper barges ran aground at mile marker 99.

The push boat Miss Odessa was reportedly transiting southbound on the Atchafalaya River when it turned west onto the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and hit bottom. One of the barges, ACL 01700, split in half and sunk when the vessel attempted to break free. There was no damage to the Miss Odessa or the other five barges.

Recovery of the vessel involved removing more than 1,600 tons of the aggregate rock cargo, followed by the heavily damaged steel barge.

The waterway location was experiencing seasonal high water levels and rapidly changing currents.

The location of the wreck was at a particularly critical point along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, adjacent to the intersection with the Atchafalaya River, a meeting point for two major shipping channels, along which most of the gulf’s maritime commerce transition.

The queue of vessels by February 6th included more than 190 towing vessels and 560 barges, and the bottleneck will take some time to clear. Current estimates were three to four days.

The owners of the tug had hired a salvage company to assist in salvaging the barge and clearing the waterway obstruction as quickly as possible. Members from Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Morgan City and Coast Guard Marine Safety Centre’s Salvage Engineering Response Team provided technical support for the recovery effort.

After salvage operations were completed on February 7th the priority was to restore normal vessel traffic flow to the critical waterway safely and efficiently.