Coast Guard responds to disabled freighter in St. Lawrence Seaway

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CLEVELAND — The Coast Guard is responding to a disabled freighter that lost steering on Tuesday while transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway in the vicinity of Wellesley Island, New York.

The freighter is currently anchored upriver, about one-third of a mile from the Thousand Island Bridge. There are no reported injuries to the crew and no reported pollution at this time.

At 2 p.m., a Jefferson County, New York, 911 dispatcher notified a watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Buffalo of an adrift freighter in the vicinity of Wellesley Island and the Thousand Island Bridge. Upon notification, the Coast Guard launched a response crew from Coast Guard Station Alexandria Bay, New York, and Marine Safety Detachment Massena, New York.

The freighter Federal Kavalina, a 656-foot Hong Kong-flagged vessel, sits in the St. Lawrence Seaway during transit, May 27, 2014. The Federal Kavalina lost power and ran aground near the Thousand Island Bridge. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Coorporation

The freighter Federal Kavalina, a 656-foot Hong Kong-flagged vessel, sits in the St. Lawrence Seaway during transit, May 27, 2014.  U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Coorporation

The captain of the Federal Kivalina, a 656-foot, Hong Kong-flagged freighter carrying 23,000 metric tons of canola seeds, reported losing steering in the St. Lawrence Seaway. The crew of the freighter dropped three anchors to slow its drift.

The Coast Guard notified the New York State Bridge Authority of the situation, who shut down the Thousand Island Bridge for about 10 minutes as a precaution while the vessel was still adrift.

Response crews from Coast Guard Station Alexandria Bay, New York State Parks Police, New York State Police, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and inspectors from MSD Massena and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation are either on scene or en route.

There are 22 crewmembers aboard the freighter. They will remain on board as long as the situation does not worsen.

“The Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation and Coast Guard inspectors are on scene to ensure the safety of the vessel and the people aboard,” said Cmdr. Dan Jones, chief of response for Coast Guard Sector Buffalo. “The safety of the crew and the environment are our main concerns.”

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