Barge tow destroys riverside yacht club near Cincinnati


A barge tow slammed into an Ohio River yacht club near Cincinnati in a predawn accident, destroying the facility and damaging moored recreational vessels.

The 4,900-hp towboat Dale Artigue was heading upriver with 15 loaded barges when the lead barge in the starboard string hit the Ludlow Bromley Yacht Club (LBYC). The venue is located on the Kentucky side of the river at mile marker 473.9 outside the navigation channel. The incident happened at about 0600 on Oct. 2.

“The collision took large portions of the floating dock, and multiple boats dragged off with the barges into the middle of the channel,” Coast Guard Lt. Jim Brendel said in a phone interview. “There was debris in front (of the barge string), there were boats and docks attached to the port side, and there was part of the restaurant attached to the starboard side.”

The Coast Guard closed the river for nearly 36 hours to allow for removal of damaged powerboats and portions of the yacht club from the navigation channel. The waterway reopened at about 1900 on Oct. 3.

Coast Guard officials are still trying to determine the cause of the incident. Brendel, stationed with Marine Safety Detachment Cincinnati, said the service is investigating “what happened, why it happened and what we can potentially do to prevent it from happening in the future.”

Dale Artigue, operated by Florida Marine Transporters (FMT), was pushing 14 barges loaded with sand, gravel and stone, and a single barge carrying styrene. The styrene barge was positioned toward the back of the tow. None of the barges grounded or broke away after the impact.

“They seemed to kind of ricochet off (the yacht club) and push back out into the channel,” Brendel said, adding that it was not known where the lead starboard barge first made contact with the riverside facility.

The yacht club in Ludlow, Ky., often has guests staying overnight on their yachts during the summer boating season. Fortunately, Brendel said, there were no injuries and none of the recreational vessels sank. None of the barges were damaged.

FMT, the responsible party, coordinated the incident cleanup and response. Brendel said debris cleanup along the shore continued a week afterward. No pollution was reported.

Ludlow Bromley Yacht Club was a popular venue for boaters as well as a destination for dining, cocktails and entertainment during the warmer months. Owners Steve and Andrea Gott described the incident as a “tragic loss” for themselves, their staff and visitors.

“LBYC has been our paradise sanctuary for 23 great seasons, and we are so sad to watch it be destroyed in five minutes,” the couple wrote shortly after the accident in a Facebook post that suggested the venue could reopen.

“While the future for LBYC remains unclear and there are a lot of challenges to face, all I can say is thanks from the bottom of our hearts,” the post said, adding, “I will be back.”

Capt. Norm Antrainer of Mandeville, La.-based FMT said the company is still performing its investigation into the incident and has not yet determined the cause. The 120-foot Dale Artigue, built by the former Horizon Shipbuilding, was not damaged.

By Professional Mariner Staff