Cargo ship runs aground sideways, blocking St. Lawrence Seaway traffic

A general cargo ship lost control and ran aground crossways in the St. Lawrence Seaway, completely blocking the shipping lane and obstructing maritime traffic for 10 hours.

The accident involving the 453-foot BBC Steinhoeft happened March 31 in Montreal. The ship snarled traffic between St. Lambert lock and Jacques Cartier Bridge beginning at around 0313.

Josianne Martel at Transport Canada said the vessel was arriving from the Great Lakes and was outbound for the sea.

"The bow of the vessel touched the bottom of the north channel and the stern of the vessel was leaning on south side of the channel,” Martel said. “Two tugboats from Groupe Océan assisted the grounded vessel in freeing itself. The seaway was reopened around 1:30 p.m. on March 31."

Océan Remorquage Montréal reported that it received the ship's distress call around 0330, and its tugs were on site at 0400. Once the response plan was established by the authorities, the tugs quickly moved to assist the stranded ship.

The company's highly maneuverable 4,000-hp z-drive tugs, 65-foot Ocean Georgie Bain and 74-foot Ocean Intrepide, freed the cargo ship in 20 minutes. The vessel was towed to the Port of Montreal for an inspection of its hull.

The Liberian-registered BBC Steinhoeft is owned by Reederei Elbe Shipping GmbH & Co. KG in Drochtersen, Germany. The company did not reply to an e-mail request for comment. The ship was built by Jiangzhou Union Shipbuilding in China in 2006.

Originally named Beluga Finessation, it was later named Beluga Fusion. It had proceeded upstream in the Seaway as Beluga Fusion and was renamed BBC Steinhoeft in Toronto. The grounding occurred when the downbound ship was carrying 1,000 tons of construction supplies to Philadelphia.

The ship is powered with a MaK 9M43 engine with 8,400-kW output. It has a beam of 68.2 feet and a maximum draft of 26.9 feet. Its maximum cargo capacity is 673 TEU.

Andrew Bogora, a spokesman for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., said BBC Steinhoeft was freed at 1320 on March 31.

John Cottreau, a Transportation Safety Board of Canada spokesman, said that the cause of the ship losing control in the Seaway has yet to be determined.

"The accident has been classified as a Class 3," he said. "Essentially, that means that a full investigation will be carried out and a written report will be made public when the investigation is completed."

By Professional Mariner Staff