Barges pinned on dam after Ohio River bridge strike


The following is text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) — The Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Valley Towing Co., the responsible party, are continuing their response Wednesday to a tug and barge accident on the Ohio River in Louisville, Ky.

The water at the McAlpine Dam rose approximately three feet over the course of the past 24 hours, causing one additional barge to sink. Nine barges are currently lying on the dam just above the falls. Seven of the nine barges sank.

The Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, and the responsible party are working together to evaluate the ever-changing situation each day. Tennessee Valley Towing has retained two salvage teams to raise the barges. The salvage equipment team is en route to the incident site and is scheduled to arrive on scene as early as Wednesday evening.

Tennessee Valley Towing and the salvage team are developing the salvage plan and will be working closely with the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers to raise the barges as safely and as soon as possible.

The Coast Guard opened the Ohio River to vessel traffic from Twelve Mile Island to McAlpine Lock and Dam, but traffic is only permitted during daylight hours.

Watch standers at Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley received a report at approximately 8:10 p.m. Dec. 25 that the towing vessel Debbie Graham, which was pushing 15 loaded coal barges, made contact with the Second Street Bridge on the Ohio River.

The contact caused the vessel’s 15 barges to break free. Six barges were recovered.

The cause of the incident is still under investigation.


(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) — Fifteen barges broke free Tuesday night after one of the barges in a tow hit the Clark Memorial Bridge on the Ohio River, the Courier Journal reported.

The barge strike shut down the bridge for several hours, said Maj. Bobby Cooper with the Louisville Division of Fire.

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Metz, a spokesman with U.S. Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley, said the towboat Debbie Graham was pushing 15 barges when the incident occurred. Six of the barges that came loose were recovered, Metz said, and nine barges were pinned against a nearby dam.

The Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers are working with Tennessee Valley Towing to recover the remaining barges, Metz said.

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By Professional Mariner Staff