The U.S. Coast Guard has lifted shipping restrictions along a 3-mile stretch of the Mississippi River in St. James Parish that came after a runaway cargo ship broke loose of its moorings and ran into two other vessels Monday.
Coast Guard officials also said Thursday that while they are still investigating what led the 751-foot bulk carrier Privocean to break loose, there is no indication, at this time, of civil or criminal violations from the incident.
Two-way river traffic was fully restored between mileposts 160 and 163 in the Convent area sometime Thursday.
The Coast Guard had begun allowing two-way traffic Wednesday evening once the Privocean moved to an anchorage outside the crash zone, the Coast Guard said in a statement Thursday.
But Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally, Coast Guard spokesman, said periodic traffic restrictions were happening late Wednesday and part of Thursday for the safety of workers in salvage operations on the Bravo, an oil tanker hit and damaged by the Privocean.
“At this time, two-way traffic is restored on the Mississippi River,” the Coast Guard said Thursday afternoon.
Only one vessel at a time had been allowed through the 3-mile zone since 10 p.m. Monday.
Meanwhile, like the Privocean, the Bravo and Texas, the other ship hit by the Privocean, also were moved out of the crash area and are awaiting repairs, the Coast Guard said.
The Privocean broke free from its moorings about 4 p.m. Monday at the Raven Energy-Convent Marine Terminal on the east bank of the river near Convent and drifted downstream.
Going about a half-mile before coming under control, the Privocean struck the 98-foot Texas and then drifted farther down river where it hit the Bravo on the west bank of the river at the Ergon terminal in the St. James area.
The Bravo had been off-loading oil at the time, and about 420 gallons of oil spilled into the river.
Before the Privocean broke free, it had been loading coal Monday from the Raven Energy-Convent Marine Terminal, which handles 10 million tons of coal per year.
Coast Guard officials said the 44,619-ton vessel was secured with marine-grade ropes and had two tugs alongside it. The ship’s anchors were not in use.
Foresight Energy, which bought the former Illinois Central terminal in 2011 through affiliate Raven Energy, did not return messages for comment late Thursday.
The Maltese-flagged Privocean, which had minor damage and is owned by Greek shipping companies, has been deemed seaworthy and left its post-crash anchorage near mile post 162 Wednesday evening.
The ship was moored Thursday at the Grandview anchorage near Gramercy about 12 to 14 miles down river from the crash area, the Coast Guard said.
The Bravo, an 816-foot tanker that has not been cleared to leave, was moved by tugboats from the Ergon terminal in St. James on Thursday afternoon, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally, Coast Guard spokesman.
The ship is anchored about 5 to 7 miles upriver of the crash zone at the Burnside anchorage, south of the Sunshine Bridge, an online listing of river sites shows.
Underwater divers did remove a mooring line that had been wrapped around the Bravo’s propeller and rudder in the crash Monday. But Coast Guard officials said ballast tanks for the Bravo, a single-hulled ship, were also damaged in the crash and are not yet repaired.
“The Bravo cannot leave until it has been surveyed for seaworthiness,” the Coast Guard said in the statement.
Coast Guard officials said the holes in the ballast tanks are not a stability concern. The Bravo’s crew has been pumping water out of the ship.
But the Coast Guard said the extent of the damage and needed repairs will be determined once the ship has surveyed.
The tow boat Texas, which had to be run ashore near milepost 162 after the crash, was taken in tow to a dry-dock to be surveyed, the Coast Guard said.
Coast Guard officials said the watertight integrity of the Texas’ hull was not harmed in the crash by the much larger Privocean, nor during the subsequent grounding. The water the Texas took on has been removed.
Coast Guard officials said the owner of the Texas, which is New Orleans-based Crescent Towing, is deciding when and where to repair the vessel.
As far as the oil spill in the river, the Coast Guard said Thursday that cleanup was not needed after assessments Tuesday found no recoverable oil.
The Bravo’s crew conducted an emergency halt to oil off-loading Monday to avoid a major spill. Only crude left in the transfer arms leaked into the river when the Bravo pulled away.
Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter @NewsieDave.