Grounded freighter freed from St. Marys River

Courtesy: Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU)— The grounded Calumet freighter was freed around 8:50 p.m. Friday.

Great Lakes towing tugs Indiana and Missouri helped get it out.

The St. Marys River, which had been closed to commercial vessel traffic from the Soo Locks to Six Mile Point following the grounding, was reopened at 9:30 p.m. Friday after the Army Corp of Engineers surveyed the bottom of the river in the vicinity of the grounding and found that no debris was obstructing the channel.

After the Calumet was refloated by offloading ballast water, the Coast Guard says it then sailed under its own power to anchorage near Lake Nickolet where it underwent an exterior and interior examination. No warping, indentations, or other damage to the hull was found.

At least a dozen ships were waiting to pass through the St. Marys River after the Great Lakes freighter ran aground.

The 629-foot Calumet was coming from ESSAR Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Wednesday evening when it ran aground near Sugar Island. The vessel was not carrying any cargo.

The St. Marys River was closed from the Soo Locks to Six Mile Point.

The Coast Guard conducted two aerial flights Thursday, one with an MH-60 helicopter from Air Station Traverse City, and one later in the day by a Coast Guard Auxiliary Air Patrol. A Coast Guard pollution aerial observer was aboard both flights and saw no pollution.

Divers conducted an initial assessment of the vessel's stern and determined that it was structurally sound.

Grand River Navigation, a Traverse City based company who owns the ship, hired an Oil Spill Removal Organization to place boom on the surface of the water near the front of the vessel to protect the environment as a precaution.

The Coast Guard says an investigating officer and safety officer from the Coast Guard were on board the Calumet. Additionally, a 45-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station Sault Ste. Marie was on scene to monitor the safety of the vessel and any possible environmental impact. The Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay arrived on scene Friday afternoon to provide support.

It is still unclear what caused the vessel to run aground.

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