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Looky There

Andy S.

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Jul 26, 1999
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Atoka, TN
The Helena Bridge, crossing the MS River at Helena, AR, was struck by a tow few days ago and the tow broke loose, sending barges scattering in all directions with a few sinking. Upon request, we sent our in-house hydrographic survey crew down there today to locate one of the sunken barges that had not been located. First image below shows the barge in question nestled up against the concrete pier in 120' of water. The second sonar image shows an old towboat from the 1970s that we were unaware of. After some research, we determined it has been on the official wreck list for quite some time. It is also in 120' of water at these high water stages. You never know what you'll find lurking underwater in these big river systems, especially during and after high water/floods.

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Andy S.

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Joined
Jul 26, 1999
Messages
19,610
Location
Atoka, TN
Nothing, just let it be. I suspect USCG has record of what vessel it is, but I cannot confirm that without more research. The salvage operation would be very expensive and since it has been overlooked this long, nothing will ever come of it since it is not a hazard to navigation due to the depth of water it sits in. If it were in shallower water and created a hazard to navigation (other tows), I suspect the parent company would have had to pay to salvage and remove it from the river, shortly after it sank.

Here is a pic of the exposed pier and the scar from the metal barge striking it.

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gasman

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Jul 21, 2011
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4,826
Location
Haywood Co
Cool find. Curious though. How has it not been found until now? Every tugboat and every fishing vessel has sonar, I'm wondering how it's not been found sooner.
 

Andy S.

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Jul 26, 1999
Messages
19,610
Location
Atoka, TN
gasman":2nywwwem said:
How has it not been found until now?
It is documented on the official wreck list so it was known about before now, just not sure if it was ever located with survey equipment before now. We typically focus our in-house survey efforts on survey shallow water and shallow crossings that are known to be problematic for tows, and rarely focus on the extreme deep parts of the river channel unless a special request like this comes in.
 

Andy S.

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Jul 26, 1999
Messages
19,610
Location
Atoka, TN
WTM":3t6epmd0 said:
whats the deal with that bridge? seems like they hit it quite often. is it the flood water pushing the barges into it?
I think you are thinking of Vicksburg Bridge downstream. It has been hit several times since 2011, mostly during swift high water stages. From talking with the commercial pilots, it is my understanding that navigating these larger tows downstream during high water is very challenging, especially for some of the newcomers. The tows are also using some new 14' draft barges that carry more tonnage and create different circumstances/challenges when transporting them.
 

Buzzard Breath

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Jul 31, 2006
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Middle
That's cool!!! Thanks for sharing.

Is there not much current at that depth? What keeps that tug from being pushed downstream? Or, has it been?
 

Andy S.

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Jul 26, 1999
Messages
19,610
Location
Atoka, TN
Generally speaking, the water velocity near the bed of the river is substantially reduced compared to the top 50% of the water column. As one point in my life, I collected water velocity measurements to see how the flows in the main stem of the MS River were responding to the stone structures we were constructing along the bank, as well as to see how much velocity/current was in the first 12 feet of the water column so I would have a better appreciation and understanding of how the water pushed and pulled on the tows (35 loaded barges all submerged 10'+). The commercial pilots were providing feedback and I wanted to collect data to see if aligned with their experiences navigating the MS River. It did.

See this old data set that shows one 1200' transect across a narrow portion of the MS River during low water and see how the swifter higher velocity water is near the surface, when compared to the calmer velocities near the bed.

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Buzzard Breath

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Thanks for the additional info. I'm glad you still had that info on hand. There's quite a drop in velocity in that deeper channel.
 

DaveB

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Sep 3, 2008
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13,501
Location
Shelby County
Wondering if the reason for the drop in velocity is due to the gentle slope (relatively) of the river. If it ran faster at the bottom you would think the river would get deeper.
 

Andy S.

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Jul 26, 1999
Messages
19,610
Location
Atoka, TN
Salvage operations underway to remove one of the sunken barges. I'd hate to be on the hook for the bill.

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