Near-Miss Maritime Incidents Prompt Coast Guard Review

Timely Intervention Averts Disasters on Lower Mississippi River

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Near-miss incidents along the lower Mississippi River near New Orleans, which surfaced from a social media posting late last month, have prompted a thorough review by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). The events, brought to light by Moran tugboat company dispatcher Eric Agena via LinkedIn, underscore the critical role of maritime intervention in averting potential disasters.

In one such incident, a 114,674 deadweight tonnage (dwt) bulker, the Anglo Marie Louise, encountered a loss of control while navigating the river, posing a significant risk of collision with the Nashville Avenue wharf, a vital heavy-lift and project cargo facility managed by Ports America. The terminal, situated on the East Bank of the Mississippi River near mile 100, spans over 4,300 feet and features 11 berths.

According to Agena’s account, corroborated by an animation shared on social media, the UK-registered vessel, measuring 837 feet (255 meters) in length, experienced a power loss as it approached a bend in the river, leading to its erratic trajectory towards the wharf. The timely intervention of two tugboats, the Lizzy B. Moran and the Sommer S, prevented a potential disaster by assisting the bulker in executing a crucial 180-degree turn.

This incident, which occurred on March 27, marked the second near-miss event in as many days, following a similar situation involving the Greek-managed Thunderbird, a vessel weighing 79,500 dwt, the day before at the Convent Marine Terminal. In both instances, tugs from Bisso Towboat Co. played a pivotal role in preventing collisions and mitigating the potential consequences of power loss.

Acknowledging the gravity of the situation, the USCG has initiated an investigation to assess the severity of the incidents and ascertain any lapses in maritime safety protocols. A spokesperson for the USCG emphasized the importance of understanding the potential ramifications of such occurrences and ensuring the robustness of response mechanisms to safeguard maritime operations on the lower Mississippi River.

The events serve as a stark reminder of the inherent hazards posed by navigational challenges and the critical role of skilled mariners and responsive tugboat operations in ensuring the safety and integrity of maritime activities in high-traffic waterways. The USCG’s ongoing inquiry underscores the commitment to upholding rigorous standards of maritime safety and fostering continuous improvement in risk mitigation strategies within the maritime sector.

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