Queen City underway before the contact.

​​Queen City underway before the contact. (Source: Dave Beightol)​​

Contact of Queen City Tow with Vane Dike

What Happened

​On March 28, 2023, about 0224 local time, the towing vessel Queen City was downbound on the Ohio River in high-water conditions, pushing an 11-barge tow, when the tow struck the Vane Dike at the arrival point for the McAlpine Locks and Dam in Louisville, Kentucky, and broke apart. No pollution or injuries were reported. Total damages to the barges and cargo were estimated to be $1.98 million.

What We Found

​We determined that the probable cause of the contact of the Queen City tow with the Vane Dike was the pilot not effectively compensating for the strong outdraft while navigating toward the lock channel entrance during a period of high flow conditions. 

What We Recommended

Preparing for Dam Outdrafts ​​​​

High currents resulting from high water pose unique hazards for vessels transiting inland rivers. In addition, near dams, greater dam openings in high-water conditions lead to high flow rates, which can produce outdraft currents near the dam. Mariners should thoroughly assess the potential impact of outdraft currents when entering or exiting locking channels. Vessel horsepower and vessel handling should be carefully considered. Mariners should also consult available resources, such as Waterways Action Plans and company policies, when passage planning.