US Coast Guard launches probe into three tug sinkings in Illinois River

Image: US Coast Guard
Image: US Coast Guard – Mary-R

The US Coast Guard has transitioned from pollution response to the investigation phase of a major marine casualty that occurred on July 5 wherein three vessels sank in the Illinois River near Hardin, Illinois.

Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River received a report of three tugs and a deck barge that were tied together and that began taking on water at mile marker 20.7 on the Illinois River. Sector UMR responded to the scene to find all three vessels fully submerged.

The vessels were identified as Mary-R (pictured), Mary-Fern, and Chatty Sue Smith, which are owned and operated by Hex Stone.

With the tugs reportedly containing approximately 18,000 litres of diesel fuel and oil at the time of the incident, Hex Stone quickly took appropriate action and contracted an oil spill removal service to mitigate the spill and deploy a containment boom.

The company had also hired a salvage company to remove the sunken vessels.

Coast guard responders remained on scene during the 12-day salvage and recovery operation to ensure responder safety and minimise any potential environmental impact.

The salvage company was able to remove the last of the sunken vessels on Wednesday, July 17.

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