Salvage crews continue removing collapsed bridge from ship - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Salvage crews continue removing collapsed bridge from ship

(Source: Marshall County SO) (Source: Marshall County SO)
(Source: KYTC) (Source: KYTC)
(Source: KYTC) (Source: KYTC)
(Source: KYTC) (Source: KYTC)

Salvage crews made good progress Saturday removing some of the Eggner's Ferry Bridge structure from the Delta Mariner.

Lt. Jennifer Jessee with the U.S. Coast Guard says crews were able to remove all of the portside sub-surface material, left side of the ship.   Crews are working on the starboard side Sunday. 

The 8,400 ton cargo vessel carrying parts for NASA crashed into the 80-year-old bridge Thursday, Jan. 26.  A 322-foot span of the bridge was ripped away.  No one was injured.

The ship has been sitting between the bridge piers with part of the bridge superstructure and deck remain draped over the ship's bow.

Lt. Jessee says they may or may not get done with the sub-surface debris removal Sunday.  She says there is much more material to be removed from the right side of the ship.

Once that work is done, the Delta Mariner will be free to move to a safe harbor of refuge a bit further north of its current location.

They have already set up anchoring points for the ship.  Lt. Jessee says the safe harbor of refuge will allow for the cranes to better position themselves around the ship to begin removing the main bridge deck material from the bow of the ship.

Once the Delta Mariner is moved away from the bridge, then underwater salvage crews will begin gathering and removing all of the bridge debris that is sitting on the bottom of the lake.

Salvage crews began cutting up sub-surface debris from the Delta Mariner around 9 a.m. Saturday.

The Coast Guard approved the salvage plan from Foss Maritime, owner and operator of the ship, on Friday.

Lt. Jennifer Jessee with the U.S. Coast Guard says salvage of the ship will be a slow and tedious process as all pieces must be removed before the ship can be removed.

The salvage plan includes how Foss plans to safely free the ship from the bridge debris, remove the collapsed bridge section from the deck of the ship, and dispose of the debris away from the waterway. Several pieces of equipment, including two crane barges, will be used in the operation.

Lt. Jessee says the timeline is on a sliding scale dependent on the weather and wind conditions.  Jesse says it could take days to weeks to remove all the metal and debris from the ship if everything goes smoothly.

All debris will have to be removed to the satisfaction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The salvage company has the option of working at night if they need to or choose to, but the salvage crews will primarily be working throughout the daytime hours for safety reasons.

The Coast Guard has been enforcing a safety zone from mile marker 41-43 on either side of the bridge on the Tennessee River.

The river was opened to commercial traffic on Jan. 28 with speed restrictions.

The Coast Guard says they have a response boat site to help with safety during the salvage operations.

Detour for drivers

With closure of the bridge, KYTC has posted signs to detour through-traffic onto Interstate 24, which circles north of Land Between the Lakes. Drivers also can get around Land Between the Lakes via U.S. 62 on the northern end and KY 121 – becoming Tennessee 119 – on the south.

The Kentucky State Police request that drivers who normally travel westbound on US 68 through the Land between the Lakes to please avoid LBL and KY 453 or The Trace as well as US 68. KSP request drivers to instead use the Interstate 24 corridor to the purchase parkway to access this area.

Despite bridge closure, Land Between the Lakes still open.

Closure of the bridge does not mean closure of Land Between the Lakes. Travelers wishing to enter and visit the nationally renowned recreation area and nearby Lake Barkley can still do so:

--From east and south – I-24 to Exit 65, then west on U.S.68/80 through Cadiz and Trigg County.

--From north and west – I-24 to Exit 31 or U.S. 62 to Lake City, then south on KY 453 through Grand Rivers and onto The Trace, a scenic roadway that runs the length of the recreation area.

About the Delta Mariner

The ship is a 312-foot cargo carrier owned and operated by Foss Maritime.  The Delta Mariner is specially designed for the equipment it carried.

It was carrying cargo for United Launch Alliance. 

The cargo is an United Launch Alliance Atlas booster and Centaur upper stage for the Air Force's AEHF-2 mission scheduled to launch in April and an interstage adapter for NASA's RBSP mission scheduled to launch in August. There is no schedule impact to either launch date expected at this point.

The Delta Mariner carries a crew of 16 experienced mariners who have completed this voyage numerous times over the past 10 years, according to Foss Maritime.

No pollution has entered the waterway. There is no threat of a fuel spill or other pollution.

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