In early March, Mumbles, a 30-ton barge that sank off Lamoine State Park, was recovered and transported to Bangor to begin its list of repairs. The vessel, used by Bucksport-based Pemaquid Mussel Farms, sank during a Jan. 17 storm. PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM KIMBRELL

Barge repair underway

LAMOINE — Repairs are underway for a 30-ton barge that sank off Lamoine State Park in January. 

Mumbles, which was moored at the park, went down in the storm that hit over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.  

The barge has been captained for 21 years by Carter Newell, co-owner of Bucksport-based Pemaquid Mussel Farms. 

It is unclear why Mumbles sank, Newell told the Islander, but it could have happened from too much water entering the hulls and from water washing off the decks from the top and sides of the barge.  

In March, Mumbles was still underwater. A team from Maine Coast Marine performed the salvage and recovery process by flipping the barge to an upright position, towing it to the low tide mark, dewatering it to get it floating again and then grounding it at the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton. 

Allen’s Environmental Services pumped out leftover fuel and fluids before Bouchard & Sons Towing hauled it above the high tide line. P.E. O’Halloran Inc. transported the barge to Bangor’s Stillwater Metalworks to perform steel work.  

Newell noted that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Coast Guard said there had not been any fuel spillage.  

The repairs will hopefully be completed by the end of May, Newell said, although supply chain logistics and increasing prices have affected the timeline.  

The price tag for Mumbles’ updates is about $600,000, Newell reported, and he considered not fixing his longtime barge. 

“But it’s the perfect vessel for what we need,” he said, and plans are in the works to get the vessel on a winter mooring in the Mount Desert Narrows to keep it safer during storms.  

According to Newell, Mumbles is integral in implementing the technology Pemaquid Mussel Farms uses, which was pioneered by the aquaculture company and involves using submersible rafts for its farming in Eastern Bay over a mile from the shore.  

“It’s designed as a harvesting and processing barge,” Newell said of the self-powered vessel.  

“We found that we can grow mussels in pretty exposed waters out there using this submersible technology,” Newell said, noting that his farm is in an area where lobsters aren’t harvested.  

Now that Mumbles is being repaired, it will undergo other upgrades to enhance its efficiency. 

Along with a new steel deck, partial rebuild of its crane and a new processing line, the barge will be repowered and burn cleaner with a tier three engine, which will use Cummins diesel from Billings Diesel & Marine in Stonington. 

Additionally, its speed will increase from 5 knots to 8 knots and will allow the company to process 2,500 pounds of product an hour. 

Rebecca Alley

Rebecca Alley

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]

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