Strong outdraft ‘overwhelmed' pilot before tow hit dam, NTSB says
Professional Mariner|August 2020
Mary Lucy Lane looked out of shape as its 12-barge tow neared Markland Locks and Dam on the Ohio River in Warsaw, Ky. A challenging crosscurrent from the dam sucked the downbound vessels farther out of position during their final approach.
Casey Conley

Mary Lucy Lane’s pilot steered the vessels away from the dam gates, but the starboard barge string bumped against the locks’ guard wall. Moments later, the lead barge in the center string ran head-on into the front of the guide wall running along the riverbank. The port-side barge string broke away on impact, and its lead barge struck an unmanned U.S. Army Corps of Engineers workboat.

The incident happened at about 1540 on Dec. 18, 2018, at mile marker 531.5 when the river level was high and still rising. No injuries were reported among Mary Lucy Lane’s eight crewmembers, and there was no pollution. Damage to the locks and barges totaled nearly $322,000. Replacing Gibson, the Army Corps’ 40-foot workboat, cost $1.8 million.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators attributed the incident to “a strong outdraft above the dam caused by the extreme high flow conditions, which overwhelmed the pilot’s ability to control the Mary Lucy Lane tow before locking.” The agency described an outdraft as “a river crosscurrent that pulls toward a downstream dam in front of upstream lock gates and guard walls.”

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