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Saint Laurent refloated, St. Lawrence Seaway traffic resumes

Saint Laurent refloated, St. Lawrence Seaway traffic resumes
Haimark Line's Saint Laurent was safely refloated and exited the Eisenhower Lock chamber in Massena, New York, on Saturday. Traffic on the St. Lawrence Seaway resumed at 4 p.m. The vessel was freed from the lock wall with the assistance of the tug Pierre Julien and was moved to a lower wall of the seaway. The US Coast Guard said divers conducted a survey and determined the extent of the damage was to the bow of the vessel and that Saint Laurent could sail under its own power. The ship was to depart for Québec City on Sunday.

During the approximately 42 hours that navigation was suspended, 17 vessels were delayed, according to USCG.

Passengers and their luggage were removed in baskets by crane on Friday and bussed to Montréal, where the voyage began.

At approximately 9:15 p.m. Thursday, Saint Laurent struck the upstream bumper at Eisenhower Lock with 192 passengers, 81 crew and a pilot on board. Twenty-two people requiring medical attention ashore for minor injuries were evacuated Thursday night. They included 19 passengers and three crew members.

Everyone else remained on board, and FleetPro Passenger Ship Management said shipboard services remained fully functional.

The Coast Guard said 10 feet of the bow was pushed inward during the impact, causing water intrusion in the bow area. When the lock was partially drained, the water intrusion stopped.

St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. said the staff on site at Eisenhower Lock had activated the agency's emergency response plan and notified the emergency services needed to respond to the incident. This team included USCG, Customs and Border Patrol, the New York State Police, the Hogansburg Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department, the St. Regis Mohawk community, local emergency responders, medical personnel at the Massena Memorial Hospital and others.

The staff and Coast Guard responders were able to stabilize the vessel in the lock.

No pollution was detected as a result of incident. After a preliminary review, no significant damage to Eisenhower Lock infrastructure was identified, but St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. safety inspectors were continuing their review late Saturday afternoon.

'This is a critical transportation route and we want to do all that we can to make sure that we provide a safe, efficient and reliable waterway,' Betty Sutton, administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. said. 'While it is unfortunate that the ship struck the lock, the collective response was quick, effective and thorough,' she added.

'Passenger safety was secured, the ship was stabilized, actions to remove the ship and restart navigation were implemented, and now navigation has resumed.'

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

The 4,954gt Saint Laurent is operating its inaugural cruise season.


TAGS: ships accident