Coast Guard Suspends Search for Three Missing Mariners
Search crews scoured more than 835 nautical miles for approximately 67 hours but were unable to find the three missing mariners, the Coast Guard said.
The towing vessel Cooperative Spirit was reportedly transiting upbound on the river when it entered a barge fleeting area and allied with barges before colliding with another towing vessel RC Creppel, causing the RC Creppel to sink and barges to breakaway. Four crew members were missing intially, but one was rescued by nearby vessel.
The RC Creppel was pushing two barges carrying sulfuric acid. One of these barges was damaged in the incident and reportedly released an unknown amount of vapor into the air. The source of the release is secured.
The Coast Guard said on Monday evening that air monitoring is ongoing in the area surrounding the incident. The air in the immediate vicinity of the affected barge has now been cleared of any traces of sulfuric acid. There are no immediate health issues or concerns to the surrounding communities.
The Mississippi River opened last night at 9:30 p.m. to vessel traffic from mile marker 121 to 123. This area is still subject to restrictions put in place by Coast Guard Sector New Orleans’ Vessel Traffic Service.
McKinney Salvage has been contracted to carry out salvage operations of the affected barge. Air monitoring in the area will continue until the salvage operations of the affected barge are complete. The National Transportation Safety Board has joined the Coast Guard to investigate the cause of the incident, the Coast Guard said.