MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The US Coast Guard Sector Mobile opened the Mobile River ship channel back up to boat traffic Thursday, April 4, but asked that boaters use caution. Multiple operations continued a day after strong winds wreaked havoc on the river.
The Carnival Triumph cruise ship was ripped from her moorings and two men at BAE Systems shipyard were thrown into the river after the guard shack they were in was blown over. Divers from the Mobile Sheriff's Flotilla continued to search for one of them, who is still missing. Investigators from the Coast Guard said no one could have prepared for such an event.
"The investigating officer is looking at it and right now that's what it's going to," said Lt. Michael Clausen of Coast Guard Sector Mobile. "It's going to winds came out without adequate warning - an act of God that unfortunately no one could have adequately prepared for."
Other efforts over the next few days will include a salvage operation to recover a huge anchor that was cut free of the Carnival Triumph cruise ship when she broke free of her moorings. Coast Guard officials describe the anchor as the size of an SUV.
Authorities sayid the anchor is not in the main river channel, but they don't know its exact location, saying it's somewhere between the BAE docks and the cruise ship terminal. Sheriff's boats with side scan sonar will also assist in locating it. While the recovery operation is underway the Coast Guard asks that boaters traveling the river use caution.
"I would recommend going slow because there's going to be a lot of divers in the water," explained Clausen. "There's going to be a lot of heavy industrial vessels there recovering anchors, debris. We're going to have sheriff's divers, commercial divers and the potential's greater for something else to happen."
Officials said approximately forty feet of pier was also destroyed at the BAE shipyard, but Mobile was not the only area impacted by Wednesday's rough weather. The Coast Guard is also busy in Mississippi where a ship collided with a barge.
Coast Guard officials expect the salvage operation for the anchor to last at least through the weekend, so if your weekend plans involve fishing that part of the river, be sure to use caution.
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