Runaway Barge in Pensacola May Have Been Intentionally Cut Free

pensacola bay bridge
Work on the Pensacola Bay Bridge in progress (State Rep. Alex Andrade)

Published Dec 20, 2020 11:17 PM by The Maritime Executive

A construction barge that broke away from its mooring and went aground in Gulf Breeze, Florida appears to have been intentionally cut free by a malicious individual, according to operator Skanska. The runaway barge follows an earlier incident during Hurricane Sally, when 27 of Skanska's barges broke away and drifted across the region.

The barge that drifted off on Sunday was one of many that the construction company has moored at the bridge for repairs. It slipped its moorings at about 2100 hours Saturday, Skanska said in a statement. It was spotted by residents when it hit a pedestrian walkway at the Baybridge Condominium community in Gulf Breeze later that night. 


It officially hit! WEAR ABC 3 News, Pensacola

Posted by Lauren Taylor Hysler on Saturday, December 19, 2020

"After conducting an internal investigation, we have determined that there is strong probable cause that this was a result of foul play and that the line was intentionally cut. We will be contacting the proper authorities and the Coast Guard to further investigate this incident," the company said. "We are relieved and grateful that this event did not cause harm to any person or property in the community. Skanska will be working closely and fully cooperating with the authorities and our partners in this investigation."

The barge has since been retrieved by tugs and secured again, and the incident does not appear to have caused any damage.

In the earlier breakaway incident, which occurred when Hurricane Sally made landfall in nearby Gulf Shores, Alabama on September 16, 27 of Skanska's barges broke free from a staging area and drifted away. Many went aground on private shoreline, one struck Naval Air Station Pensacola's main gate bridge, one went through an oyster farm, and four lodged underneath the new eastbound span of the Pensacola Bay Bridge. The damage has closed the bridge section until March. 

Litigation over the previous breakaway and the Pensacola Bay Bridge closure is under way. 

Florida DOT overview of the previous Pensacola Bay Bridge barge breakaway, Oct. 2020