, Newburyport, MA

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December 6, 2012

Rising from the harbor

Sunken excavator gets pulled up, dredging to resume


According to BTT General Manager Scott Haggerty, the barge with its 140-foot-tall crane took 10 hours to get to the mouth of Hampton Harbor on Tuesday, pushed by its tug all the way. Then, unexpected sea conditions at the harbor caused problems.

“We were going to set up in the harbor (Tuesday) night,” Haggerty said. “But the water’s rough at the mouth of the harbor and it was too shallow for our tug to push the barge in. We had to get another tug to get us in.”

Haggerty said the emergency job wasn’t a difficult one, but Southwind had to access the right equipment to get it done right.

“It’s all about finding a crane with the capacity you need to do something like this,” Haggerty said. “Fortunately, we have a 100-ton crane and were able to come.”

Haggerty didn’t want to quote dollar figures, but he said the hourly cost to bring down the crane and barge, as well as two tugboats, won’t be insignificant. But, he added, the cost of recovery could be second in expense if government agencies step in and assess fines and penalties, due to the multi-day hazard to navigation the incident created.

“(Southwind) has the Army Corps behind them to back them up,” Haggerty said. “But if someone wants to be difficult, it could get interesting.”

Once anchored down to the harbor floor, BTT’s crew, along with Black Dog Divers, attached four lines to the excavator and after closing the bridge for a few minutes for safety, the crane lifted the mechanical digger up quite easily, then maneuvered it beside and onto the barge.

Haggerty said the plan was to bring it back to BTT’s yard, where he believes it might be saved.

“It wasn’t running when it went under, so the saltwater would not have run through the engine,” he said. “The biggest problem is the computer (system). It’s probably ruined.”

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