Coast Guard continues to monitor vessel aground in St. Mary River

The merchant vessel Calumet sits hard aground in shallow water outside of the channel on St. Marys River, southeast of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, August 10, 2017. A U.S. Coast Guard 45-foot response boat - medium encircles the aground vessel assessing damage. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The merchant vessel Calumet sits hard aground in shallow water outside of the channel on St. Marys River, southeast of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, August 10, 2017.(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — The U.S. Coast Guard continues to monitor a 629-foot cargo ship aground on the north side of Sugar Island in the St. Marys River.

Grand River Navigation Inc., the vessel’s owner, submitted a salvage plan Friday afternoon to the Coast Guard’s Salvage Engineering Response Team (SERT) for review. The plan, which included plans to offload ballast water and refloat the vessel, was approved. Efforts to refloat the vessel are scheduled to begin Friday evening.

Once the vessel is refloated, it will be towed to a designated anchorage in Lake Nickolet for exterior and interior hull examinations. The Army Corp of Engineers will then survey the bottom of the St. Marys River in the vicinity of the incident to ensure there is no debris obstructing the channel and to determine when the river will reopen to commercial vessel traffic.

The St. Mary’s River remains closed to commercial vessels from the Soo Locks to 6 Mile Point. There are 12 vessels anchored or moored waiting to transit downbound on the river and 5 vessels waiting to transit upbound on the river.

A safety zone of 200 yards is being enforced around the vessel’s current position. All vessels without prior authorization from the Captain of the Port or his designated representatives shall stay out of the safety zone.

The Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay, homeporterd in St. Ignace, Michigan, is on scene, along with a local agency response boat, to assist in enforcing the safety zone and monitor the stability and potential environmental impact of the grounding.

The Coast Guard conducted aerial flights on Thursday and Friday. No pollution was observed.

As a precaution, boom remains in place on the surface of the water near the front of the vessel to protect the environment. Additional boom has been contracted and is pre-positioned as an additional precaution.

Contracted divers conducted an initial assessment of the vessel’s stern Thursday and determined that it is structurally sound.

The cause of the grounding is under investigation.

The merchant vessel, Calumet, departed Essar Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and was transiting downbound on the St. Marys River to its next port of call in Brevort, Michigan, when it ran aground Wednesday. The vessel was not carrying any cargo.

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