Rural Alaska

Unmanned barge floating down Kuskokwim River has been recovered

BETHEL - A gravel barge that floated without a crew down the Kuskokwim River after breaking free from ice has been recovered.

The rogue barge was brought under control and towed to the Port of Bethel on May 9, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Thursday.

The barge traveled more than 100 miles in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, cargo transportation company Alaska Logistics LLC said.

The barge was headed to Red Devil in October before the river froze and trapped the ship near Aniak, the Seattle-based company said.

Alaska Logistics General Manager Allyn Long previously said the company unsuccessfully attempted to free the barge with another boat fitted with an excavator but there was too much ice surrounding the ship to make a recovery.

Residents in Kuskokwim River communities said the barge came loose earlier this month when rising temperatures caused the river ice to break up.

The company had filled the vessel with hundreds of tons of water in anticipation of the ice breakup, hoping the barge would become beached.

The ice instead acted like bumpers and allowed the barge to bounce off the riverbanks, Long said.