Coast Guard opens portion of Mississippi River to limited traffic

At approximately 1:30 p.m., Friday, watchstanders at Vessel Traffic Service New Orleans received a report that a 195-foot vessel, Crimson Gem, was pushing 20 barges of grain when one allided with the Rhodea Dock and three of the Crimson Gem's barges sank.NEW ORLEANS — The Coast Guard has implemented restrictions and tighter controls on the Mississippi River, Monday, following the sinking of three barges that sank near Baton Rouge, Friday.

Salvage operations for the barges are not scheduled to begin until water levels have reached a level that is deemed safe.

“The barges do not present a hazard to navigation and are being constantly monitored for any movement,” said Lt. Cmdr. Quincy Davis, commanding officer, Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Baton Rouge. “We are working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers, the contracted salvage companies and the barges’ owner to approve a salvage plan to remove the barges. But, we will wait until the water levels drop so we can safely conduct those operations.”

Resumption of southbound transits is currently under discussion between the Coast Guard, port entities and the maritime industry. This decision to proceed with southbound traffic will be based on applying necessary additional restrictions as a result of this incident.

The Coast Guard opened the Mississippi River from mile marker 228-237 to northbound traffic with the following restrictions:

For the northbound channel, vessels are allowed to transit one-at-a-time; however, they must coordinate with Vessel Traffic Service New Orleans for permission to transit.

The northbound channel is clear, while there are 27 vessels waiting to transit southbound.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., Friday, watchstanders at Vessel Traffic Service New Orleans received a report that a 195-foot vessel, Crimson Gem, was pushing 20 barges of grain when one allided with the Rhodea Dock and three of the Crimson Gem’s barges sank.

There are no reports of pollution or injuries.

The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the incident.

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