Sunken barge raised in the Netherlands
A prompt response from regulatory authorities and commercial contractors has minimised disruption on a busy Dutch inland waterway following a collision between two barges.
The network of waterways in the south of the Netherlands centred on Rotterdam are vital arteries for the huge number of inland barges engaged in transhipment of cargoes both liquid and bulk and interruptions to safe navigation can have serious implications similar to the ripples from a minor accident on a busy motorway spreading beyond the immediate area.
Recently, the Douai, northern France-based 39m inland barge Coxswain collided with the 100m inland tank barge Somtrans XIII while both vessels were navigating the Dordtse Kil, a waterway around 9km long connecting Hollands Diep with the Oude Maas southwest of Dordrecht.
Both vessels were reported to be sailing in the same direction at the time and the smaller of the two, Coxswain which had loaded artificial fertiliser in the Botlek came off worse quickly suffering water ingress before capsizing and sinking. The two persons on the barge, master and his wife, were thankfully rescued from the water by recreational craft with the Somtrans XIII reported to be undamaged.
Coxswain’s cargo was not considered a pollutant, but containment booms were placed around the area to contain a small loss of fuel oil. It was reported that while inland vessels were still able to transit the area, the waterway was closed to larger vessels.
Rijkswaterstaat took control of the subsequent salvage operation and just two days after the collision the heavily damaged wreck was raised by the Rotterdam-based floating sheerlegs Matador 2. Many inland barges have a car stowed on deck and in this case one such on board the Coxswain that broke free and drifted down river was recovered by a crane from Smit Salvage. It was reported that work continued to recover the hatch covers and cargo.
Rijkwaterstaat is responsible for the management and maintenance of the main infrastructure facilities in the Netherlands including waterway networks and water system. The three floating Matador sheerlegs and two supporting tugs of Bonn & Mees are regular sights in Rotterdam and beyond with Matador 2 involved here having a lifting capacity of 400t, the largest of the trio Matador 3 can lift 1,800t.
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