Bouchard seeks buyer to avoid office closure, layoffs


(MELVILLE, N.Y.) — Tugboat and barge operator Bouchard Transportation, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September, is now seeking a buyer, according to a notice posted June 8 by the New York State Department of Labor. If the company does not find a buyer, it may begin to lay off employees in July.

“The company is currently in the process of seeking a purchaser of Bouchard or its assets, which may also elect to continue the employment of all or a substantial number of employees,” the filing states. “Otherwise, depending on the terms of a purchase transaction, the company may need to engage in employee layoffs that may begin on July 15, 2021 and continue through Aug. 15, 2021.”

As many as 108 employees could be affected. If the company shuts down, “it is expected that the majority of (or all) employees located at (Bouchard headquarters) will be permanently terminated.”

Bouchard has faced mounting financial difficulties in the wake of a barge explosion off Port Aransas, Texas in 2017 that killed two crewmembers. The incident led to federal investigations and regulatory rulings that have weighed on the company’s finances and operations.

A federal bankruptcy judge removed longtime CEO Morton S. Bouchard III from his position in March. In April, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that the company had paid $375,000 in restitution to a whistleblower who had been fired for cooperating with investigators after the Texas barge incident.

The company operates 26 tugboats and 25 tank barges across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

Two Bouchard Transportation employees were killed when barge B. No. 255 exploded off Port Aransas, Texas, on Oct. 20, 2017. NTSB photo


By Professional Mariner Staff