Mississippi River traffic is flowing normally again upriver from Davenport after a sunken towboat was refloated this morning. Lieutenant Dave Webb, supervisor of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment/Quad Cities, says the 50-foot towboat ran into trouble Wednesday near Cordova, Illinois, while pushing four empty barges. Lieutenant Webb says the pilot of the vessel was maneuvering and felt it start to “heel” or lean to one side and knew he was taking on water, quickly, and ordered his crew evacuated to the barges. Webb says the back end of the Samantha went down rapidly, but the front stayed above water.The towboat didn’t sink all the way because the front end was tied to the barges and acted as buoyancy to keep the front end up, though the stern was submerged. None of the four crew members were hurt. Webb says there was some oil leakage but it was properly contained and five-thousand gallons of fuel were pumped out of the boat’s tanks. Webb says the reason for the mishap is still a mystery. Webb says it’s still not known what caused the towboat, known in the trade as a fleeter, to partially sink and an investigation is underway. The towboat is owned by Blackhawk Fleet, based in Buffalo, just west of Davenport.
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