St. Mary

Aug 11, 2011 7:10 PM by Maddie Garrett

Sunken Barge Finally On Its Way Out of St. Mary Parish

It's been plaguing St. Mary Parish for over a year now, a two thousand ton barge stuck in the middle of the Charenton Navigational Canal. But Thursday the barge is finally on its way out.

"It's been 15 months and 12 days since this barge has been in this water way. And it's been a thorn in my side ever since," said Parish President Paul Naquin.

An eyesore, a headache, even a hazard, no matter which way you look at it, this drilling barge has been nothing but trouble for Naquin and other vessels trying to travel the canal.

"I tried everybody, I tried the Coast Guard, I tried the Corps of Engineers, I tried the Corps of Engineers in D.C., neither one of those would take ownership of this barge," explained Naquin.

Finally, Naquin got the barge auctioned off at a Sheriff's sale three weeks ago. The welcomed buyer was Lee Dragna, President of LAD Services. He payed $160,000 for the defunct vessel.

"This has been the biggest headache in the history of St. Mary Parish. Every politician around has called me ten times and they're just so happy to get it gone," said Dragna.

A wench will pull several massive cables for about two hours to flip the barge upright. But the sheer weight of the barge has proved to be a challenge. So far on Thursday, two cables snapped while trying to move the vessel.

"Difficulty is about an 11... It's just not really been done before in this particular way, and it's pretty dangerous. We broke a big cable this morning," said Dragna.

Naquin said it's a process of trial and error, but he's confident Dragna and his team can get the job done.

And once the barge is pulled upright, it will be secured to the bottom of the canal. Then the water will be drained from the hull, and that's where the divers come in.

"Where ever there's any leaks or holes they already know about we're going to go around patch those up and seal those off, and basically just standing by in case there's any underwater emergencies that arise," said David Martin, owner of Wheel Job Diving Services.

Crews should have the barge floating down to LAP's salvage yard in Morgan City by Friday or Saturday.

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