Bulker loses engine power, grounds for week outside Green Bay 


A bulk carrier inbound on Lake Michigan for Green Bay, Wis., grounded within sight of the city’s downtown and remained stuck for more than a week. 

The 740-foot Algoma Conveyor grounded on the morning of March 19 due to an “unexpected loss of engine power,” according to Peter Winkley, chief financial officer of vessel operator Algoma Central Corp. of St. Catharines, Ontario. 

Crew aboard the Canada-flagged ship dropped anchor before the bow drifted out of the navigation channel and went aground in the soft bottom. The ship’s stern partially blocked the channel into Green Bay. 

The U.S. Coast Guard is reviewing the incident but has not yet released the cause of the engine failure, said Lt. Phillip Gurtler, spokesman for Sector Lake Michigan. “Currently, we are not sure why that happened, but it is being investigated,” he said.

There was no pollution or hull breaches due to the grounding, and the 18 crew reported no injuries. Pilots are not required on board for entry into the Port of Green Bay. 

Algoma Conveyor approached Green Bay carrying road salt after making other port calls on the Great Lakes. The ship became stuck about 5 nautical miles from the Fox River, which bisects the city and flows into Green Bay. The river also is home to the port and several large industrial businesses.

The Coast Guard established a unified command that included Algoma Central Corp., the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Port of Green Bay. The group organized a salvage plan to remove the ship without causing pollution or hull damage.

Hudson Marine of Pelham, N.Y., oversaw the salvage, which began March 23. Over four days, more than 3,000 metric tons of salt was removed from the holds of the self-unloading bulker and placed in a waiting barge. 

The 2,000-hp tugboats Barbara Andrie, Nickelena and Erika Kobasic refloated the ship on March 26 and pulled it back into the channel. From there, the freighter sailed into the Port of Green Bay under its own power. 

Winkley described the salvage as “fairly routine.” However, he said it “was certainly complicated by various procedures put in place by all parties involved as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic response.”

Although salvage crews encountered “minor difficulties” along the way, Gurtler said the operation was completed without incident “thanks to the close partnership between all of the participating agencies.” Winkley expressed gratitude to the Coast Guard and Hudson Marine. 

Algoma Conveyor, built in China, joined Algoma’s fleet last year. The vessel trades within the Great Lakes and typically carries aggregate, salt, grain or iron ore, depending on the season, according to Algoma Central’s website. It can discharge up to 5,400 metric tons of cargo per hour.

AIS data suggests the ship did not stay long in Green Bay. By midafternoon on March 29, Algoma Conveyor was underway in the St. Clair River heading south to Lorain, Ohio, after making a stop in Sarnia, Ontario.

By Professional Mariner Staff