Tow vessel safely recovers barges that hit Starved Rock Lock and Dam

The towing vessel Joyce Hale recovers one of two barges that drifted into piers of the Starved Rock Dam in Utica, Ill., June 15, 2015. The vessel was pushing eight barges of dry cargo on the Illinois River Sunday when four barges broke free. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The towing vessel Joyce Hale recovers one of two barges that drifted into piers of the Starved Rock Dam in Utica, Ill., June 15, 2015.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

MILWAUKEE — Two barges that drifted against piers of the Starved Rock Dam in Utica, Ilinois Sunday afternoon have been safely recovered.

One of the barges, carrying corn, was recovered Sunday evening, while the second barge, carrying sand, was recovered Monday morning.

The 157-foot towing vessel Joyce Hale was pushing eight barges of dry cargo south on the Illinois River Sunday when two of the eight barges it was pushing made contact with the protection cells of the Starved Rock Lock and Dam.

As a result of the allision, four of the barges broke away from the vessel’s tow wires. The crew immediately notified watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan in Milwaukee at about 1:15 p.m.

The crew of the Joyce Hale quickly recovered two of the barges but the other two drifted against the piers.

The Coast Guard launched an aircrew aboard a helicopter for a damage assessment flyover as well as marine inspectors from Marine Safety Unit Chicago to begin an investigation. The Army Corps of Engineers temporarily closed the lock. Preliminary investigations have revealed minor damage to the dam and barges. There are no reported injuries or pollution.

“The Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, American River Transportation Company and Canal Barge Company worked together to ensure a safe and effective response to this incident,” said Capt. Amy Cocanour, commander of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. “Our goals to safely recover the barges and reopen the waterway as soon as possible were achieved.”

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