The Coast Guard said Friday that it has approved a salvage plan submitted by Foss Maritime to remove the supply ship M/V Delta Mariner and section of bridge that still rests across her bow more than a week after striking the Kentucky bridge.
The 312 foot Delta Mariner, which is owned and operated by Foss, struck the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge located on the Tennessee River near Paducah, KY, on January 26th, taking a nearly 350 foot span of the aging bridge with it. No injuries to the crew or pedestrians on the bridge were reported and there was no threat of environmental damage.
“The Coast Guard is working closely with Foss Maritime to ensure the safest and most efficient salvage of the ship,” said Cmdr. Claudia Gelzer, commanding officer of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Paducah. “The company is cooperating fully and bringing the appropriate resources to bear in support of the operation. The goal is to free the ship from the bridge span debris and assess damages so it can be repaired and put back into service.”
Foss said that it will begin salvage operations on Saturday, first cutting sections of the the bridge away at the waterline before moving the vessel out of the channel to a protected area where the remaining portions of the bridge can be removed safely from the vessel.
Since the January 26 collision, the Coast Guard has been enforcing a two mile safety zone around the bridge to protect the public from the damaged bridge and stricken ship. The Coast Guard has also mobilized the Cutter Obion and a 25-foot Response Boat-Small on site to ensure safety of salvage operations.
The Coast Guard is also working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and Marshall County Police to ensure the safety of the public and salvage operations.
The investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing.