Barge breaks free, bounces along seawall in Florida


(PANAMA CITY, Fla.) — A coal barge broke free from its mooring in high wind and waves Sunday, then slammed repeatedly into the seawall before drifting across St. Andrew Bay and grounding, the Panama City News Herald reported.

Several large cracks were visible along the sidewalk at the marina where the barge had been moored, along with scrapes of green paint along the side matching the color of the barge. Caitlin Lawrence, the city’s public information officer, said the risk management team went out in a boat early Monday to view any potential damage from the water.

The barge, BIG 695, is owned by LA Carriers LLC and transports coal from Mobile, Ala., to Tampa, Fla. The barge's tugboat, Helene Maria, is owned by United Tugs Inc. from Louisiana. United Tugs is the same company that had a barge break free and wash ashore near the jetties at St. Andrews State Park after a storm last May, according to Brad Adams, the tugboat’s captain.

At about 4 p.m., Adams said the two steel cables securing the barge to the marina snapped because of the strong winds and surf. The barge then drifted toward the Tarpon Dock Bridge before beaching on a nearby sandbar. By the time Adams and his crew realized what was happening and got their tug underway, the barge had cleared the marina and was adrift.

“The wind was pushing the barge faster than the tugboat could go,” he said. “It happened due to the weather. It wouldn’t have happened without the wind and waves.”

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By Professional Mariner Staff