Freighter freed, ships still blocked from Lake SuperiorThe thousand-foot vessel Paul Tregurtha is free and heading to a Michigan port under its own steam.
By: By Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The thousand-foot vessel Paul Tregurtha is free and heading to a Michigan port under its own steam. The channel remains blocked, as almost a dozen ships wait for it to be cleared.
The freighter grounded in the St. Mary’s River early Wednesday, but was re-floated around 5:30 a.m. Thursday. Coast Guard Senior Investigator Rob Scott at Sault St. Marie says they swapped ballast water from the bow.
“So the stern sat lower, while it allowed the bow to elevate slightly," he said. "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.”
The Army Corp of Engineers is dredging the area the Tregurtha grounded, so downbound traffic from Lake Superior is still not able to get through. Eleven vessels are waiting for the Corp to finish dredging, which should be completed by 10 p.m. Wednesday.
Scott says the St. Mary’s 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 says they are not sure how long that shoal had been accumulating, but they are fixing it.
“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.
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.