The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
(MAXWELL, Pa.) — The Coast Guard is responding to a report of a grounded barge on the Monongahela River, Friday.
The Coast Guard Captain of the Port Pittsburgh closed the Monongahela River at mile marker 59.6 near the grounded Francis J. Blank and tows.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Pittsburgh received a report from the uninspected towing vessel Francis J. Blank at approximately 6:45 a.m. that its lead coal barge of a three-barge tow reportedly struck bottom while transiting the river. The vessel captain took action to prevent the barge from sinking by pushing the barge into the left descending river bank.
The towing vessels John Cushner and Kimberly Johnson are on scene until salvage commences. The River Salvage Company is employed to refloat the damaged barge by using a crane barge to offload coal onto a hopper barge. The expected time to re-open the river safe navigation is 8 p.m. or at the conclusion of salvage efforts.
The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the incident.
Questions concerning this incident should be directed to Lt. Alanna McGovern at (412) 644-5850 ext. 2116 during normal working hours between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. After normal working hours, contact MSU Pittsburgh command duty officer at (414) 670-4288.