The first U.S.-built ship to take to the Great Lakes in 40 years ran aground on the eastern tip of Belle Isle in Detroit Wednesday.
The 639-foot Mark W. Barker became stuck in the soft silty mud just off the shore of Belle Isle facing Windsor, Ontario. After being launched only last year, the Barker is the newest ship from the Interlake Steamship Company. From the Detroit Free Press:
Interlake Steamship described the ship has a square-shaped, flat-bottomed cargo hold instead of a traditional V-shaped angled bottom, and a combination of larger hatch openings and additional cargo hold space was designed with cargo in mind.
And it was christened in a ceremony in Cleveland in 2022 following a bit media fanfare.
The ship is powered by engines that generate 8,000 horsepower, turning a four-blade, propeller, and, in a twist, Interlake Steamship boasted that the ship’s “forward-looking design” offered “high-efficiency propulsion and maneuverability.”
The Barker was heading from Detroit to Milwaukee with a load of salt when it somehow became firmly wedged in the mud and silt just outside of the Belle Isle Park on Detroit’s east side. The site is so close to the Dossin Great Lakes Museum that you can get a great view of recovery efforts from the museum’s livestream
While the Barker was laying sideways across the straight between Belle Isle in Detroit and Windsor, Canada, the shipping channel was still navigable for other freighters with the help of a tug boat. The Coast Guard managed to tow the Barker out of the mud a little before noon, taking her backwards the wrong way up the shipping channel.
The U.S. Coast Guard said on Twitter it will investigate what caused Wednesday morning’s mishap. No injuries were reported among the Barker’s 24-person crew, nor is there any evidence of any pollution or damage to the freighter itself. Ironically, as the Barker made its way up the channel it was passed by the Alpena, which is currently the oldest freighter on the Great Lakes.
This incident was the “best case scenario” Coast Guard Lt. Cameo Ulbricht told the Detroit Free Press. At least ships can still pass through the river. The same couldn’t be said for the Ever Given when it blocked the Suez Canal in 2021. Or when the MV Golden Ray capsized off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia.
This is a breaking story and we will update it as more information becomes available.