Salvors with Donjon-SMIT freed grounded river cruise ship American Jazz on Friday July 16th from the muddy shoal on Lake Barkley, a reservoir on the Cumberland River in Kentucky, to which it had affixed itself.
During the mid-afternoon the salvage crew and the vessel’s crew were able to free the ship from its perch using a combination of a tug and barge arrangement and the ship’s own propulsion.
Commander Jennifer Andrew, federal on-scene coordinator for the unified command, said that “thanks to the amazing support of American Cruise Lines, the state of Kentucky, Trigg County Emergency Management, Donjon-SMIT and the residence of Trigg County, the American Jazz was removed today and was found fit for service on the Cumberland River”.
The US Coast Guard said that the salvors carried out fuel lightering to reduce the vessel’s draft, which enabled the vessel to be refloated.
The vessel had run aground outside the navigation channel on July 7th while on a seven-night cruise from Memphis to Nashville. American Cruise Lines, notified USCG Sector Ohio Valley the following morning, initiating the salvage response.
All 120 passengers and a cohort of nonessential crewmembers were transferred off the ship by tender last Friday, while 27 crewmembers remained on board in preparation for the refloat.
The cause of the incident is under investigation.