On Wednesday night, the 20,000 dwt Great Lakes freighter Calumet went aground on the St. Marys River, not far from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The vessel departed the Essar Steel dock in Sault Ste. Marie and was headed for Brevort, Michigan when it ran aground.
The vessel was not carrying any cargo, and no injuries or pollution were reported. The St. Marys River has been closed to commercial vessels in the vicinity of the accident.
The Army Corps of Engineers assessed the river bottom around the vessel, and commercial divers inspected the ship’s stern and found it to be structurally sound. Dive surveys continued Thursday afternoon.
Coast Guard aircrews conducted two aerial monitoring flights on Thursday and observed no pollution. The ship’s operator has hired a spill response company to place a containment boom near the bow of the vessel as a precautionary measure.
On Friday afternoon, the Calumet’s operator filed a salvage plan with the Coast Guard’s Salvage Engineering Response Team (SERT) for review. The proposal, 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. As of Friday evening, there are 12 vessels anchored or moored waiting to transit downbound on the river and 5 vessels waiting to transit upbound on the river.