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By CW4 Michael Carr, US Army Watercraft Master (Retired) “A guy with a flag simulates a flame, and a nozzleman says…I am squirting you with water…and then they say…fire is...
An American Cruise Lines river cruise carrying more than 160 people ran aground Wednesday and remains stuck near Canton, Kentucky. An evacuation of passengers was completed on Friday.
The American Jazz grounded after straying from the main shipping channel and planting itself on sandbar in just feet of water. The Coast Guard reports the ship grounded near mile marker 62 on the Cumberland River, outside the ship channel with 120 passengers and 54 crew. The ship is located in Lake Barkley, a damned reservoir on Cumberland River that crosses the Kentucky-Tennessee border.
No damage, pollution, or injuries have been reported.
“Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley watchstanders received a call Thursday morning from American Cruise Lines stating their vessel American Jazz ran aground. A Coast Guard Station Paducah 29-foot Special Purpose Craft-Shallow Water boat crew along with a Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Paducah marine investigator were launched to the scene,” the Coast Guard said in an update.
A Unified Command, comprised of representatives from the Coast Guard, the State of Kentucky, Trigg County, and American Cruise Lines oversaw the disembarkation of passengers by pontoon boats on Friday, with rescue and assist boats nearby to ensure passenger safety.
All 120 passengers were transferred safely to shore, along with six crewmembers. Forty-eight crewmembers remain aboard. No medical concerns were reported.
“The Coast Guard worked with local government and industry partners to safely disembark passengers and crew from the American Jazz,” said Cmdr. Jennifer Andrew, commanding officer, Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Paducah. “The Unified Command will remain on scene until the vessel is safely afloat.”
A safety zone is in effect for three nautical miles, from mile marker 61 to 64 on the Cumberland River.
The cause of the incident is under investigation.
A statement from American Cruise Lines said the American Jazz is on a seven night “Music Cities Cruise” from Memphis to Nashville.
An update from the company on Friday said the effort to refloat the vessel was taking longer than expected:
“Work is progressing well in assisting the American Jazz off the sandbar in Lake Barkley, but the effort is taking longer than expected. We are working with the Coast Guard to disembark guests today via tender and have them proceed to Nashville, where they will be able to participate in regularly scheduled shore excursions. There remains no damage to the vessel, no pollution, and no other resulting areas of concern. American Cruise Lines has been operating in Lake Barkley for almost 10 years and while we regret this incident, we look forward to continuing to visit and explore the wonderful ports and communities along the Cumberland River with our small riverboats.”
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