U.S. Navy Dive Teams are Still Clearing Wreckage From Hurricane Ida

SUPSALV, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the USCG and private contractors are still clearing barges off the banks of the Mississippi (USACE)

Published Oct 6, 2021 6:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

One month after the passage of Hurricane Ida, salvors are still working to remove sunken and grounded vessels from Bayou Lafourche, Louisiana. 

After the hurricane's passage, the Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers identified at least 25 vessels in need of a salvage response. The U.S. Navy's Supervisor of Diving and Salvage (SUPSALV) has taken on the task of removing these vessel casualties and returning the waterway to its normal operating condition. 

Bayou LaFourche is still closed between the town of Lockport and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at Larose. According to the Houma Marine Safety Unit, there are multiple vessel casualties and ongoing clearance operations in the area. Bayou Lafourche is open again between Larose and the Gulf of Mexico, though mariners are advised to use extreme caution due to active dive and salvage operations on the waterway. Vessels are advised to coordinate with dive teams over VHF to arrange safe passage.

SUPSALV has been tasked with taking the lead on vessel recovery, and work is under way. 

"If possible, we will return the vessels to their owners, if they are safe," said Lt. Neil Tublin, who is in charge of a SUPSALV dive team at Leeville. "If not, we will be taking them to a laydown site and disposing of them. . . . If the [wrecks] are left, they'd be a danger to navigation and other vessels won't be able to get through to fish, shrimp or do the other jobs they have here that are pretty essential to the lifeline of this area."

The seaport at the bayou's entrance, Port Fourchon, restarted business just nine days after the storm. However, while it has made rapid progress and all of its waterways are open, it has not yet fully recovered. Utility company Entergy is still working on power restoration at the port, but issues with transmission lines are causing delays. Convenience stores, gas stations and restaurants are still closed, though commercial fuel can be purchased from several marine suppliers. Water, cell service and emergency services have all been restored, and debris clearance operations for tenants are under way.