Salvors Recover Body from Sunken Towboat

File image courtesy towboatgallery

By The Maritime Executive 12-18-2017 01:52:14

Salvors have discovered the body of one of two missing crewmembers of the towboat Ricky Robinson, which went down in the Mississippi near Memphis on December 8. 

Harbor and fleeting service Wepfer Marine announced the casualty in a statement on Sunday. "Today Wepfer, under the supervision of the Coast Guard, was able to bring the Ricky Robinson to the surface," the firm said. "One body was found on board and has been turned over to the Memphis Police Department. The family has been notified." Wepfer did not immediately release the name of the deceased. 

The 66-foot towboat sank south of Mud Island in Memphis at about noon on December 8. Captain Keith Pigrem got off a distress call, but he and his stepson, deckhand Anquavious Johnson, went missing when the boat went down. The Coast Guard and local authorities searched over 300 river miles over the course of 29 hours. Relatives of the two men assisted with a riverbank search. 

A spokesman for Wepfer said that the site of the salvage posed significant difficulties. "The vessel is in a very deep part of the Mississippi River, approximately 65 feet deep in muddy water with virtually no visibility, and an area with swift and dangerous currents," said spokesman Ralph Berry in a statement to local media. "These conditions will make salvage of the vessel a complicated multi-day, multi-step process with unique equipment requirements and modifications."

The cause of the sinking is not yet known, and the NTSB will be participating in an investigation of the incident.