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Ship thought to have hit something in Lake Superior sails to Wisconsin for repairs

UPDATE 6/11/24 10:45 a.m.

On Thursday, the Michipicoten will set sail from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada to a repair facility in Superior, Wisconsin.

The vessel will be escorted by a tug during its transit, which is expected to take roughly 18 hours. The Michipicoten plans to undergo permanent repairs following damage they received on June 8, 2024.


That damage, originally reported as the result of a collision, is now considered likely to be a stress fracture.

The U.S. Coast Guard has been working closely with Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, the vessel’s owner, Naval Engineers, National Weather Service and third-party surveyors to ensure the vessel’s safe transit.

This team effort included the safe offloading of all cargo, a thorough structural survey of the vessel and completion of temporary repairs, extensive engineering analysis, and the creation of a comprehensive transit plan.

6/11/24 10:45 a.m.


SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — A ship that took on water in Lake Superior likely had a stress fracture in its hull, the U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday, backing off an initial report that the freighter had struck something below the surface last weekend.

“That would have been very peculiar,” said Lt. Joe Snyder at the Coast Guard post in Sault Ste. Marie in northern Michigan. “They were in open water.”

The Michipicoten, a 689-foot-long (210-meter-long) ship, was carrying taconite, an iron ore, and had 22 people aboard Saturday. Half of the crew was evacuated for safety reasons while the ship was able to reach a port in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The ship was in the northwest part of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area.


“The initial report to the Coast Guard was that the (crew) heard a loud bang and started taking on water near the bow,” Snyder said. “The evidence they’ve seen so far seems to point to some kind of stress fracture or structural failure.”

The investigation was ongoing, he said.

The ship did not lose any cargo or discharge pollutants into the lake, Snyder said.

6/9/24 8:15 a.m.


SAULT SAINTE MARIE — The 689-foot bulk carrier Michipicoten has safely anchored in Thunder Bay, Ontario, after combating flooding in Lake Superior on Saturday morning.

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Northern Great Lakes assisted the Canadian bulk carrier Michipicoten to anchorage in Thunder Bay after they initially reported taking on water at approximately 7 a.m. The cause of the flooding is unknown at this time. Coast Guard assets involved in the response include two helicopters from Air Station Traverse City and a response boat from Station Bayfield.

Although no injuries were reported on the vessel, the Coast Guard coordinated with a National Park Service boat from Isle Royale to transfer 11 of the 22 crew members aboard the Michipicoten. All U.S. Coast Guard assets have been released from the scene, and the Coast Guard remains closely engaged with Canadian counterparts.

The cause of the flooding and any other damage to the bulk carrier will be investigated.

6/8/24 1:20 p.m.

SAULT STE. MARIE (AP) — A freighter in Lake Superior hit something underwater on Saturday and started taking on water, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard Great Lakes district received reports about 6:53 a.m. that a 689-foot-long (210-meter-long) ship called the Michipicoten had collided with something about 35 miles (56 kilometers) southwest of Isle Royale, which is part of the state of Michigan. The ship was carrying taconite, which is a low-grade iron ore, and had 22 people aboard.

Water pumps onboard began displacing water, authorities said, and there were no signs that anything spilled from the ship. By 9:15 a.m., water pumps had reduced the listing of the freighter from 15 degrees to 5 degrees, the Coast Guard said.

Helicopter and boat crews were responding, the Coast Guard said.

Around 12:30 p.m. the Coast Guard said half of the people on board had been evacuated from the vessel for safety. The ship was on its way to a port for inspection and repairs.

Authorities say the cause of the collision will be investigated.

The collision occurred in the northwest part of the lake, which straddles the U.S.-Canadian border and is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area.

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