Coast Guard closes portion of Miss. River after tug boat sinks
The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies are at the scene of a sunken tugboat at the mouth of the Mississippi River. No injuries are reported but the incident has forced a traffic closure on the river above Head of Passes.
FOX 8 received this news release from the Coast Guard Saturday evening:
The Coast Guard has closed the Mississippi River above Head of Passes in response to a sunken vessel, Saturday.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report at 12:10 p.m. from a passenger vessel near the 48-foot tug boat C-Pec that capsized and sank in the river at mile marker eight above Head of Passes near Venice.
Sector New Orleans deployed a 29-foot Response Boat – Small boat crew from Coast Guard Station Venice and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans to respond to the scene to search for the sunken tug.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has also responded to assist in locating the sunken tug and currently has a boat on scene with sonar equipment searching for the tug.
Plaquemines Parish Port Authority is also en route with specialized sonar equipment.
Two people from the sunken tug were reported to enter the river and were rescued by a good Samaritan and transferred to the Coast Guard response boat and taken back to Station Venice.
The C-Pec is completely submerged in the channel. There were four external 500-gallon tanks that broke free and produced a minor sheen. All tanks have been recovered, and the sheen has dissipated due to the river currents.
A full waterway closure was put in place at 1 p.m. on the Mississippi River from mile marker zero to mile marker 10 above Head of Passes.
"The Coast Guard is actively working with all available resources and intends on re-opening the lower Mississippi River once it is determined to be safe for the navigation of all vessel traffic," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Frechette, situation watchstander at Sector New Orleans.
Sector New Orleans is attempting to contact the responsible party to identify an oil spill response organization to determine a salvage plan to recover the sunken tug vessel.
The cause of the incident is under investigation.