Towboat Sinks, Spills Fuel on Mississippi

File image courtesy National Archives

By The Maritime Executive 03-08-2019 02:20:01

On Thursday, the towboat St. Rita went down on the Mississippi River near LaPlace, Louisiana, with thousands of gallons of diesel on board. 

At about 1500 hours Thursday, Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report that the Marquette Transportation towboat St. Rita had sunk on the bank of the Mississippi near LaPlace.

The towboat Rod C rescued the St. Rita's five crewmembers and transported them to shore. No injuries were reported, and there were no reported impacts to vessel traffic. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

A Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Incident Management Team conducted a visual assessment, along with representatives from Marquette Transportation, and confirmed a non-recoverable sheen on the river. 

A Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter was diverted to conduct an overflight, and it reported a visible sheen from mile marker 132 to mile marker 117. The St. Rita is estimated to have approximately 13,000 gallons of diesel on board.
“We are working with our federal, state and local partners and the responsible party to oversee the salvage and clean-up operations with the goal of minimizing the impact [of the sinking],” said Cmdr. Zachary Ford, Chief of the Sector New Orleans Response Department.

The St. Rita is a 66-foot towboat built in 1997. She has been owned and operated by Marquette since 2007.