Thousand-footer freed after running aground between Lake Superior and Lake HuronEleven vessels were waiting Thursday for the Army Corps of Engineers to finish dredging the area where the Tregurtha grounded, which was expected to wrap up by 10 p.m.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
The laker Paul R. Tregurtha was freed from the downbound channel of the St. Marys River early Thursday after running aground Wednesday and blocking ship traffic for more than a day.
The ship was refloated at 4:30 a.m., U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Rob Scott said, but the several other vessels waiting to pass were not immediately allowed to proceed. Upbound traffic was not affected.
The 1,014-foot-long Tregurtha ran aground in the channel connecting lakes Superior and Huron about 3 a.m. Wednesday. No one was injured, but the ship suffered damage near its bow. Its pumps handled any water that entered the ship, Scott said. After being freed, the Tregurtha anchored to be inspected to determine the extent of damage.
While grounded, the ship spanned the width of the channel, with its bow and stern aground. It was freed by pumping ballast water from the bow to the stern.
“So the stern sat lower, while it allowed the bow to elevate slightly,” Scott told Wisconsin Public Radio. “That, coupled with the tugs moving the stern of the vessel back to a proper position as it would have proceeded through the channel initially, allowed the vessel, the Tregurtha, under its own power to pull the bow from the rocky portion where it had grounded.”
Eleven vessels were waiting Thursday for the Army Corps of Engineers to finish dredging the area where the Tregurtha grounded, which was expected to wrap up by 10 p.m. Thursday.
Scott told WPR the St. Marys River is a challenging area for the thousand footers.
“It’s a very narrow channel. It’s a very large vessel,” he said. “It’s a challenging transit, for sure.”
Coast Guard Petty Officer Levi Read told WPR they’re not sure how long the shoal the Tregurtha hit had been accumulating.
“We’re working on making sure it’s deep enough for these deep-draft vessels and also to make sure that the charts are up to date,” he said.
The Tregurtha is owned by Interlake Shipping Co. of Richfield, Ohio, and carried 62,000 tons of coal that it loaded Monday in the Twin Ports. Damage to the Tregurtha still has to be assessed, but it will deliver its cargo of coal to St. Claire and Detroit before dry-docking for repairs.
An investigation will be conducted to determine why the ship ran aground, Scott said.