At approximately 10:00 p.m. on Friday, Tidewater Barge Lines reported to the Coast Guard than an unmanned 285-foot grain barge was missing from their Hayden Island facility. Crewmembers of the tug LORI B located the barge floating near the navigation channel and towed it back to Tidewater’s facility.
Upon inspection of the barge’s mooring lines, the Tidewater Barge Lines employee who made the initial report indicated that the mooring cable for the barge was not cut, and the ratchets used to hold it in place appeared to have been intentionally loosened. This incident could have resulted in a major shipping disaster. Either intentionally or negligently failing to secure a barge of this size on the Columbia River could have led to a major casualty. The incident is under investigation by the Coast Guard, and persons with information relating to the incident are asked to contact the Coast Guard Columbia River Command Center at 503-861-6211.
The Tidewater Barge Lines web site indicates that Tidewater Barge Lines is the largest inland marine transportation company west of the Mississippi River. Tidewater Barge Lines provides connections for truck, rail, and waterborne freight throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, their operating area includes 465 miles on the Columbia and Snake River systems extending from the Port of Astoria, Oregon, to the Port of Lewiston, Idaho.