Mississippi: Restrictions after accident

Deep-draught vessel transits in the lower Mississippi River remain severely curtailed following the sinking on Saturday of a salt barge.

USCG spokesman Stephen B Lehmann told Fairplay that the Coast Guard and Corps of Engineers were surveying the scene – between mile markers 218 and 222 – where the barge is believed to be resting on the bottom of the main shipping channel. The USCG received a call about 0030 Saturday morning from American Commercial Lines reporting that a barge had broken its towline from the tug Carol P and was sinking. All marine traffic in the area was immediately halted after it sank, but the Marine Safety Unit Baton Rouge re-opened the zone to shallow-draught vessels – less than 6m draught – at about 1500 on Saturday. Subsequently, the zone was re-opened to deep-draught shipping, but only one-way traffic is being permitted and only during daylight hours. “All shipping must operate at dead-slow speeds,” Lehmann said. No pollution or injuries resulted from the incident, Lehmann said, adding that an investigation continues