Tuesday, January 22, 2008
The Coast Guard is now re-opening a portion of the Mississippi River to two-way ship traffic. The river had been restricted to one-way traffic near Donaldsonville, from mile 167-177, Saturday night after a tugboat struck a sunken replica of a 17th Century warship, causing the tug to spill 30 gallons of diesel fuel into the river. The tugboat Senator Stennis struck the sunken Le Pelican around 1:30 p.m., damaging the tug's fuel tanks.
Tugboat Senator StennisLe Pelican, purchased by the city of Donaldsonville as a tourist attraction, sunk in November 2002 and again in March 2004. After the 2004 sinking, officials decided to leave it where it had sunk, saying that because it was close to shore it would not be a navigational hazard. The original warship Le Pelican, commanded by Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville, sank in 1697 after first sinking two English vessels and running off a third during a battle for a trading post on Hudson Bay in Canada. Le PelicanCanadian philanthropist Stewart McDonald built the replica for a reported $15 million. The boat was a tourist attraction in Quebec in the early 1990s, but was sold as too expensive to maintain in the cold, harsh weather, the Associated Press said. The Coast Guard re-opened the river to one-way traffic and said this morning it was being re-opened fully.