Salvage experts refloat grounded freighter in St. Marys River

Great Lakes Coast Guard NewsSAULT STE MARIE, Mich. — Salvage experts successfully refloated the freighter Paul R. Tregurtha early Thursday morning that had been hard aground in the downbound channel of the St. Marys River.

At 5:30 a.m., two tugs with a combined 4,000 horsepower, moved the stern of the ship into the middle of the channel. This enabled salvage experts to successfully raise the ship’s bow by filling stern voids which reduced the amount of forward weight on the rocks.

The vessel was cleared to proceed to anchorage near Detour, Mich., where the owners, the Coast Guard marine inspectors, ABS Surveyor and divers will continue inspection and investigation activities to ascertain the vessel’s condition and ensure it’s safety prior to departing anchorage. The vessel is planning to offload its cargo of 62,000 tons of coal and proceed to a drydock facility for repairs.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is onscene and a crew aboard the vessel Bufe swept the channel to identify any hazards raised by the grounding. USACE will be dredging areas in the vicinity of the grounding. The dredging of the channel is expected to be completed today. The Sault Ste. Marie Vessel Traffic Service is making preparations to allow eleven delayed vessels to resume their downbound transits as soon as the channel is reopened to commercial traffic.

“It is important for us to reopen this channel as soon as possible, so commercial vessels can resume their delayed transits and get cargoes to their destinations,” said Lt. Rob Scott, chief, Marine Investigations Division and chief, Waterways Management Division at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie. “We understand shipping traffic in the Great Lakes Region is crucial to the economy of the United States and we are working steadfastly with our partner to reopen the shipping channel to commercial traffic.”

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