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UPDATE: Coast Guard reopens waterway after vessel sinks near LSU

Posted at 9:00 PM, Mar 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-14 23:13:28-04

UPDATE: The Mississippi River is now open at Baton Rouge after a towboat sank at the anchorage there.

The Coast Guard confirmed an oil sheen in the water. There is a reported potential of 18,500 gallons of fuel aboard the Michelle Anne. An unknown amount of oil has discharged into the river.

Due to concerns over responder safety from dangerous river conditions, the Coast Guard and OMI Environmental are managing the spill from shore.

General Anchorage remains closed.

Coast Guard Sector New Orleans watch standers received a report at 11:00 a.m. about Michelle Anne pushing one empty dry cargo barge with four crew members, sinking at Baton Rouge General Anchorage.

The four crew members escaped to the barge and were recovered by a nearby tug. There were no reported injuries. The barge was recovered as well.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.


Four crew members were rescued this afternoon when their tug boat sank in the Mississippi River near LSU.

The Coast Guard says that the Michelle Ann was not towing a vessel when it sank. The four crew members got off the tug onto a barge, and were rescued by another tug, a Coast Guard spokesman said. No injuries were reported.

Right now the river is closed between mile markers 224.5 and 226 while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers use sonar to try to locate the sunken vessel so it can be raised, the spokesman said.

So far, there are no indications of pollution, the spokesman said.

David Billiot shot the video above; he was passing by on a crewboat as the tug was sinking on the way to catch his boat.

“When the vessel first tipped to the port side, a large plume of smoke/steam escaped from the engine room doors, due to the water rushing into the engine room and contacting the hot surfaces of the main engines and exhaust, which are all very, very hot,” Billiot said. “That’s what first caught my eye, and then I realized what I was really looking at.”

Billiot said he believes all the men were rescued and safe.