Bouchard Transportation has been ordered to move three tug and fuel barge units to safe berths by the US Coast Guard (USCG) as it works with advisors to address its financial issues
These units were moored at anchorage in New York Harbour for USCG safety inspections. After these checks, USCG captain of the Port of New York and New Jersey Jason Tama asked Bouchard to move these tugs and barges immediately out of anchorage to a safe berth, as the USCG determined the operational condition of these vessels posed a risk to the safety of New York and New Jersey waterways.
Specifically, Bouchard had been “unable to consistently maintain safe fuel and manning levels aboard these vessels,” said USCG, “and does not have adequate contingencies in place for emergency weather or other conditions requiring movement within the port”.
Three more Bouchard tug and fuel barge units are at anchorage in the port and will be monitored by USCG as are several other Bouchard vessels moored at piers in New York and New Jersey. This could lead to further requests for tugs and barges to be moved from anchorages to safe berths.
“We are currently closely monitoring these additional vessels to ensure they do not pose a threat to the safety of the port,” said USCG.
“My number one priority is to ensure not only the safety of the public and our waterways, but the health and well-being of the crews who do the difficult and hazardous work of operating these vessels,” said Capt Tama.
“This is not an action we wanted to take, however, we have a responsibility to keep our waterways safe, and Bouchard’s inability to maintain safe operational conditions aboard these tugs and fuel barges has forced me to take this step.”
USCG’s tug-barge movement order is another issue Bouchard is facing as it works with advisors to overcome financial challenges.
In response, Bouchard said USCG’s port order covering eight of its 51 units “is a further financial hurdle” and the company “has confronted tests the likes of which it has not faced in 100 years of history”.
Bouchard continued, “Financial struggles are trial enough, but they are worse when they affect or worry our employees.”
Bouchard said in a statement its management was “working with financial and technical advisers to address the challenges at every level of our business”. The company urged its employees to remain supportive of the company as it went through these processes.
“Please know that we are working every day with clients, creditors, and the authorities to put our house aright,” Bouchard said. “We have a financial plan and a clear understanding of, and commitment to, all those who work with, support or rely upon us.”