Salvors Free Grounded River Cruise Ship on Kentucky's Lake Barkley

american jazz
American Jazz aground outside the navigation channel, Lake Barkley, July 10 (USCG Heartland)

Published Jul 16, 2021 7:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Friday afternoon, salvors with Donjon-SMIT freed the river cruise ship American Jazz from a muddy shoal on Lake Barkley, a reservoir on the Cumberland River in Kentucky.

At 1520 hours, the salvage crew and the vessel's crew were able to free the ship from its perch using a combination of a tug and barge arrangement and the ship's own propulsion. 

"Thanks to the amazing support of American Cruise Lines, the state of Kentucky, Trigg County Emergency Management, Donjon-SMIT and the residence of Trigg County, the American Jazz was removed today and was found fit for service on the Cumberland River," said Cmdr. Jennifer Andrew, federal on-scene coordinator for the unified command.

According to the Coast Guard, salvors carried out fuel lightering to reduce the vessel's draft and enable the refloat. 

On July 7, while on a seven-night cruise from Memphis to Nashville, the American Jazz ran aground near the town of Cadiz at a position outside of the navigation channel. The operator, American Cruise Lines, notified Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley on the following morning, initiating a salvage response. 

All 120 passengers and a cohort of nonessential crewmembers were transferred off the ship by tender last Friday, and 27 crewmembers remained on board. 

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

The recently-built American Jazz is the third in a series of five modern riverboats orderd by family-owned American Cruise Lines. She completed her trials at Chesapeake Shipbuilding and was delivered to the company last September.