Dredging operations related to the Fort Pierce Shore Protection Project halted Saturday as a result of a barge that sank February 24 in the Fort Pierce Inlet.
Operations are ongoing to remove the wreck and its debris field, which are limiting navigation, including the dredge, in the Federal channel.
On Saturday the U.S. Coast Guard announced that recreational and commercial vessels with less than 25-foot draft were allowed to transit through the Fort Pierce Inlet safety zone. The dredge associated with the shore protection project needs more than a 25-foot draft.
The Army Corps of Engineers issued an emergency contract to Resolve Salvage & Fire to remove the sunken barge. Resolve used sonar technology and specialized divers to assess the debris field and worked closely with the Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard to identify areas within in the Inlet with sufficient depth for vessels to pass. In addition, Resolve installed buoys that mark the debris field to help boaters navigate safely through the inlet.
Resolve has proposed using the salvage barge RMG400 for removal of the sunken vessel and that vessel is transiting from Mobile, Ala., to Fort Pierce, with an anticipated arrival no later than Wednesday, March 4. Due to the size of the sunken vessel, a salvage barge with specific specifications is required to perform the salvage operation.
The actual time required to perform the removal operation has not been determined. The U.S. Coast Guard anticipates closure of the inlet in its entirety during the actual removal process.