Marine Accident Report

Ramming of the Eads Bridge by
Barges in Tow of the M/V Anne Holly With
Subsequent Ramming and Near Breakaway
of the President Casino on the Admiral
St. Louis Harbor, Missouri
April 4, 1998

NTSB Number MAR-00/01
NTIS Number PB2000-916401
PDF Document(4.2M)

Abstract:  About 1950 on April 4, 1998, a tow of the M/V Anne Holly, comprising 12 loaded and 2 empty barges, which was traveling northbound on the Mississippi River through the St. Louis Harbor, struck the Missouri-side pier of the center span of the Eads Bridge. Eight barges broke away from the tow and drifted back through the Missouri span. Three of these barges drifted toward the President Casino on the Admiral (Admiral), a permanently moored gaming vessel below the bridge on the Missouri side of the river. The drifting barges struck the moored Admiral, causing 8 of its 10 mooring lines to break. The Admiral then rotated clockwise downriver, away from the Missouri riverbank. The captain of the Anne Holly disengaged his vessel from the six remaining barges in the tow and placed the Anne Hollyís bow against the Admiralís bow to hold it against the bank. About the time the Anne Holly began pushing against the Admiral, the Admiralís next-to-last mooring line parted. The Anne Holly and the single mooring wire that remained attached to the Admiralís stern anchor held the Admiral near the Missouri bank. No deaths resulted from the accident; 50 people were examined for minor injuries. Of those examined, 16 were sent to local hospitals for further treatment. Damages were estimated at $11 million.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the ramming of the Eads Bridge in St. Louis Harbor by barges in tow of the Anne Holly and the subsequent breakup of the tow was the poor decision-making of the captain of the Anne Holly in attempting to transit St. Louis Harbor with a large tow, in darkness, under high current and flood conditions, and the failure of the management of American Milling, L.P., to provide adequate policy and direction to ensure the safe operation of its towboats.

The National Transportation Safety Board also determines that the probable cause of the near breakaway of the President Casino on the Admiral was the failure of the owner, the local and State authorities, and the U.S. Coast Guard to adequately protect the permanently moored vessel from waterborne and current-related risks.

The Safety Boardís investigation identified the following major safety issues:

As a result of this investigation, the Safety Board made safety recommendations to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Research and Special Programs Administration, the States of Missouri and Illinois, the cities of St. Louis and East St. Louis, the National League of Cities, the American Association of Port Authorities, the American Gas Association, the American Public Gas Association, President Casinos, Inc., Laclede Gas Company, and American Milling, L.P.