NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 6, 2012

Rising from the harbor

Sunken excavator gets pulled up, dredging to resume

HAMPTON, N.H. — Dented and dripping, the 35,000-pound excavator recently dumped unceremoniously under the Hampton Harbor Bridge rose from the depths yesterday morning, without incident, while a bevy of bystanders recorded every moment on their cell phones.

But the retrieval of the machine might not be the end of the story for the company responsible for its accidental swim in local waters. Government agencies are still investigating the incident, and fines could be in the offing.

Lifting the excavator from its temporary resting place in 16 feet of water was the physical portion of the aftermath of an incident that took place during the Army Corps of Engineers’ current dredge of the harbor. The problem began around 10 p.m. Thursday, when workers with the Army Corps’ dredge contractor, Southwind of Indiana, noticed their unmanned barge was taking on water in the outer harbor. The 10-foot-tall, 28-foot-long John Deere 160D LC excavator was on the barge, because it’s used to couple dredge piping together, Army Corps officials said.

Using a push boat, Southwind workers attempted to get the barge and its cargo back to the dock in Seabrook. But the barge’s list became too severe, the cable securing the excavator snapped and it slid into the sea around midnight.

Thankfully no one was injured, but the excavator landed smack dab under the middle of the bridge, in the boating channel of what’s the busiest commercial harbor in the Granite State.

Considered a serious hazard to navigation, the Coast Guard set up a 100-yard security zone around the machine using buoys. In addition, the Coast Guard monitored the situation, and provided personnel on the bridge yesterday morning during the recovery effort as well as a boat in the harbor.

According to Bob Casoli, senior construction representative for the Army Corps of Engineers, Southwind officials made the arrangements for salvage. The company hired East Boston-based BTT Marine Construction Company, which sent its barge crane to the scene. Portsmouth’s Black Dog Divers were also hired to help secure the lines to the excavator.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Special Features