USCG: Bulker’s cracked hull likely not from hitting obstruction

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(THUNDER BAY, Ontario) — The Great Lakes bulk carrier that took on water  in Lake Superior last weekend sustained a 13-foot crack in its steel hull, but the incident likely didn’t result from striking an underwater obstruction as originally thought, The Detroit News reported.

The bulker Michipicoten was en route from Two Harbors, Minn., to Thunder Bay on Saturday when it began taking on water. Half of the ship’s crew was evacuated, and the ship then proceeded to Thunder Bay.

The U.S. Coast Guard first reported that Michipicoten, which was carrying taconite mined on Minnesota’s Iron Range, had hit something underwater.

An underwater impact still can’t be “100 percent” ruled out, but “there is no evidence to indicate the ship struck a submerged object,” Lt. Joe Snyder, a spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., said Monday evening.

The gash in the ship’s hull “is likely due to a stress fracture,” he said.

Divers found a 13-foot foot crack below the water line in the “general area” of the bow. The crack varied from one-half inch to one inch wide. A ballast tank flooded due to the crack, as did the centerline void, Snyder said.

Temporary patches are being installed on the ship in Thunder Bay to make it seaworthy, he said. The ship is then expected to transit under its own power to another port where more extensive repairs will be made.

By Professional Mariner Staff