Coast Guard marine inspectors provided safety recommendations to the operators of 11 Shallow Water Barge Recovery System vacuum barges in Empire, La., June 18. The owner/operator of the barges asked the Coast Guard to inspect the vessels, some under construction, to ensure they were safe.
The Coast Guard inspectors made recommendations to the owner/operator regarding lifesaving and firefighting equipment, vessel stability and egress issues, leaving the decision to continue construction and operations with the owner/operator. Five of the 11 barges have been engaged in operations today, operating in in Plaquemines Parish in: Bay Jimmy, Red Fish Bay, Pass A Loutre, Four Bayou Pass and Bay Baptiste. Two are enroute to Grand Isle, one is dockside for repairs and three are assigned, but have not yet started cleanup operations.
On June 18, there were a total of 94 skimmers operating in Plaquemines and Jefferson Parishes, in the vicinity of Barataria Bay, including 20 Shallow Water Barge Recovery System barges, which have a similar capability to the 11 barges in question.