Sunken tugboat pulled from Miss. River bottom

Workers raise "C-Pec," the 47-foot tugboat which sank Saturday in the middle of the Mississippi River, near Venice, La., Wednesday, July 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) | Zoom

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - An arduous, five-day effort to locate and surface a tugboat that rolled and sank in the Mississippi River near Venice, La., over the weekend, interrupting the flow of traffic and commerce, has finally come to an end.

Crews pulled the 47-foot-long towing vessel out of the water Wednesday. It sank Saturday. The river had been closed, either partially or entirely, since then and was finally reopened in both directions later Wednesday.

"Closing down the river was a big deal," said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Brandon Sullivan, who was on site as the tugboat was pulled from the river. Venice is located about 75 miles southeast of New Orleans.

The on-and-off river closures since the incident Saturday caused some ships to have to anchor and wait a chance for passage and some, including one cruise ship full of passengers bound for New Orleans, to be rerouted to Mobile, Ala.

"Any delay is a loss, but it certainly could have been worse," Gary Lagrange, president of the Port of New Orleans, said Tuesday. Day to day, Lagrange said, costs grow "exponentially."

The river wasn't completely reopened in both directions until midday Wednesday.

Lagrange had no estimate on how much the recent closures cost the port.

Divers secured the tug with cable to a work barge on Tuesday. A day later, the tug was completely raised, water was pumped from it and it was towed away.

One of the divers said high water levels and the river's powerful current were challenging.

"You can't see your hand in front of your face," said Travis Lamm, a diver with Blackwater Diving based in Morgan City, La. "The current is ungodly. The pressure on you, it pulls you so hard, and you have to tie your hose off. You can't really see what you're doing, so you have to feel your way around."

The Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, local authorities and private companies were involved in the search and salvage effort, which included the use of sonar.

The Guard said two people were rescued from the water after the sinking. The cause of the accident remains unclear.

"We know it took on water very quickly, and it sank very quickly," Sullivan said.


Associated Press writer Kevin McGill and AP photographer Gerald Herbert contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Spy Gadgets
    A big collection of equipment that would make James Bond envious is on display in Seattle

  • Grab Brunch
    Find a good spot for your Sunday brunch

  • Week in Photos
    Holy Week, white tiger's reflection, and Easter goes to the fishes make up this week's photos
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from
In the community
Do you know a student who stands out in the classroom, school and community?
Help make their dreams come true by nominating them for a $1,000 scholarship and a chance to earn a $10,000 Grand Prize. Brought to you by KIRO Radio and Comprehensive Wealth Management.

Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.