Saturday, December 28, 2013

Week of Delays, Ship Grounding Bring Interesting End to the Season

Orsula aground off Tibbetts Point preparing to unload. Photo by Dennis McCarthy

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Channel markers sit on the Thousand Islands Regional Dock in Clayton, including the marker that would have sat just off Tibbetts Point where a ship ran aground. Photo by Janet Sullins
With the holiday, we apologize for not having a formal posting this week.

Update, Dec 30 - Orsula left anchorage this morning and is proceeding downbound for Montreal.

Update - Orsula was moved from the rocks off Tibbetts Sunday evening before 6 pm. The ship is under its own power, but ushered by tugs.

The ship now rests at anchor off Carleton Island.

Original Report - What started as ice build-ups along the South Shore Canal, west of Montreal, more than a week ago, quickly became so much more by last Saturday and set the tone for a long week/ending for the Seaway.

Temperatures dipped quickly and the ice storm moved in.

Former Save The River director Jennifer Caddick chimed in on the situation and shared this tweet, "Current probs on proof that weather not a pre-set calendar should dictate opening/closing of Seaway."

This week will go down as the end of a shipping season that no one prepared for. The ice caused havoc for ships, causing some to become stuck with no nearby assistance. Unlike the upper lakes, which have multiple Coast Guard cutters available to clear the shipping channel, ships on the Seaway were left to sit and wait.

A tug from Hamilton, CCG Griffon, and a smaller tug near the South Shore Canal had to be called in to begin breaking ice. With more than a week remaining in the shipping season, this chore was highly important.

At midnight on December 23, the height of the ice storm, there were still 15 ocean-going ships within the Seaway system that would need to get out before the closing. To make matters worse, the ship arrestor was damaged at St. Lambert Lock, bringing every ship to a standstill.

One ship captain indicated that his trek from Cape Vincent to Montreal took 90 hours - more than 3 days longer than usual due to having to anchor or wait for ice to be cleared from locks.

In addition, just off Tibbetts Point, the ocean-going vessel Orsula ran hard aground. Though a full report is not available yet, the ship has sustained damage to its propeller after hitting the rock bed just outside of the shipping channel. Only a few days before, the channel marker that sits near the rocks had been removed for the winter months. Water levels just off Tibbetts Point drop outside of the channel from more than 60+ feet to less than 20 feet rather quickly.

The Coast Guard, along with McKeil Marine vessels have been on the scene for the past few days and efforts to unload and re-float the ship are underway. Due to the damage to the ship, it will likely need to be towed - perhaps to Hamilton - and spend the winter in the Lakes, rather than head overseas.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, where we have been giving regular updates on all situations and will continue to do so until the close of the Seaway -

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Ships sit anchored this week. Photo via Twitter

1 comment:

Tom Bogenschutz said...

Not having preset dates to close the seaway is not realistic.What would they do ,leave salties locked in the system because of a little ice? Save The River needs to get their heads out of their asses and relise the river is not just for the rich who they seem to represent to play on. Much more valuable as a commercial water highwaydetform peers

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