Dredge barge sinks in heavy seas off South Carolina

A 196-foot excavator dredge barge, Tauracavor, capsized and sank approximately 60 nautical miles off the coast of Winyah Bay, S.C., on April 11 at about 1700.

The unmanned dredge was being towed by the tug American Challenger from Panama to New York at the time of the accident.

The crew of the tug noticed that the barge was listing in the heavy seas and 50-knot winds. Suddenly the barge capsized while still attached to the tow, according to Lt. Meridena Kauffman, a Coast Guard spokeswoman in Charleston, S.C. The crew of the tug then disconnected the tow and notified the Coast Guard before heading in to Wilmington, S.C. There were no injuries or damage to the tug.

The Coast Guard began overflights of the area of the incident to look for any resulting pollution. So far the Coast Guard has not seen any pollution associated with the sinking.
At the time the barge was not carrying any dredge spoil but did have approximately 6,000 gallons of diesel, lube and waste oils aboard.

The barge went down bow-first in approximately 100 feet of water, but 10 feet of the vessel’s stern remained above the water until the next day, when the barge submerged completely.

Before the stern went under, the vessel’s owners, Boskalis Westminster BV of the Netherlands, contracted Resolve Marine Group of Port Everglades, Fla. The company was able to remove the fuel oil before the barge completely submerged.

The barge was marked a hazard to navigation by the Coast Guard, which continues to conduct regular overflights to look for evidence of pollution.

A decision has yet to be made whether to leave the vessel where it sank or move it to another location for use as an artificial reef.

By Professional Mariner Staff