Salvage operations to remove two sunken barges from the Ohio River which began on Thursday, June 12 are now complete. Both barges carrying 1,500 tons of iron ore were safely retrieved by Friday evening.
The two barges owned by Nashville based Ingram Barge Company sank during the afternoon of Sunday, June 8 after exiting the Portland Canal with twelve loaded non-hazardous cargoes. The two lead barges were overtaken by water and sank within minutes. No injuries or hazardous chemical pollution occurred as a result of the barge sinking.
The incident had minimal impacts on navigation. The Ohio River was closed and re-opened on several different occasions, once due to an unrelated allusion downriver and a second time because an assist vessel struck the sunken barges. The Coast Guard enacted the Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) in which an industry vessel was on scene to assist vessels in safely navigating through the affected area. The Louisville District provided a survey boat with GIS mapping to assist to locate, identify and mark the barges.
Salvage operations on the completely submerged barges began with lightering operations to remove the remaining iron ore from the barges. The recovery operations were originally expected to last seven to 10 days but the first of two barges was re-floated on Thursday morning and the second was removed from the Ohio River by Friday evening. The barges were pulled to the surface by a large A-frame crane while another larger crane helped stabilize the barges while they were being emptied. After they were brought to the surface the barges were transported to nearby Jeffboat shipyard for inspection.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District, Coast Guard Ohio Valley Sector, Ingram Barge Company, and the Louisville Waterfront Development/Belle of Louisville partnership worked to ensure a safe recovery of the sunken barges.
With the barges safely removed Ohio River navigation has resumed as normal.
While the Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the incident it is likely that high water played a role in causing the barges to sink.
Release no. 08-006