Tugboat raised from Elk River being taken to Va.

March 05, 2002|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The tugboat that sank on the Elk River last week was on its way back to Virginia yesterday, and salvage crews continued to retrieve debris in hopes of reopening the shipping channel by midweek.

Lt. Cmdr. Brendan McPherson, Coast Guard spokesman, said investigators confirmed that the Swift sustained damage to its starboard, or right, side in the collision Feb. 25 with the A.V. Kastner, a 520-foot freighter.

The Swift was loaded on a barge and is being transported to Norfolk, Va.

Investigators are examining communications between the ships, the crews' procedures, equipment, seamanship and the weather in an effort to determine how the accident occurred, McPherson said. The Coast Guard expects salvage workers to finish removing debris today.

The Army Corps of Engineers will then spend a day surveying the channel floor with sonar in a 2-mile stretch centered around the accident site. If it is clear, the Corps of Engineers will recommend the channel be reopened for traffic to and from the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, Corps spokesman Rich Chlan said.

Afterward, salvage workers will turn their attention to a barge that sank at the same time as the Swift. It went down just outside the channel, so it is not likely to prevent the canal from reopening, McPherson said.

Four of the Swift's nine crew members were killed. Two bodies were recovered when the Swift was raised Saturday.

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