The Delta Mariner was expected to reach its next berth in a Paducah dry dock by dawn Tuesday. The vessel was cleared to travel Monday after salvage operations were completed on the ship that struck the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge near Aurora on Jan. 26.
Lt. Jennifer Jessee, U. S. Coast Guard interim public information officer, said an inspection team made up of the Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping cleared the vessel for departure shortly before 8 p.m. Monday evening. The vessel was scheduled to travel overnight to a dry dock at Paducah Marine Service, a repair facility owned by James Marine, Inc., of Paducah.
Crews finished cutting away the last bits of debris from the ship’s bow late Monday afternoon. Salvage operations were delayed for 36 hours over the weekend, noted Jessee, due to winds in excess of 30 mph. The equipment the crew was using to cut debris off the bow is rated for wind speeds no higher than 20 mph. Jessee said the delay was the only issue with the salvage operations, which have otherwise proceeded smoothly.
“One of the things we said we wanted to do was conduct a safe operation, and it has been safe,” said Suzanne Lagoni, a spokesperson for Delta Mariner owner Foss Maritime. “We’ve had no injuries reported. There has been no discharge of oil or anything like that into the waterway.”
Lagoni said she does not know how long repairs will take in dry dock. She expected the cargo ship will continue to its destination of Cape Canaveral, Fla., once it leaves Paducah.
The ship is carrying rocket parts from the United Launch Alliance’s factory in Decatur, Ala., for the U. S. Air Force and NASA. ULA does not expect the salvage and repair delays to effect scheduled rocket launches in April and August.