Nanticoke Stuck in River10/18
5:30 p.m. update
According to Coast Guard officials approximately 400 tons of cargo have been removed from the vessel to two barges which will be off loaded downstream. A third barge is enroute. This amount has been insufficient to permit the on-site tugs to shift the vessel. Off loading will continue when the barges return, a process which is slowed because the barges have to maneuver through the bridge, and every care is being taken to protect the personnel involved, the environment and surrounding facilities.
3:30 p.m. update
The barge used to lighter the Nanticoke was loaded with about 300 tons of her cargo and all tugs went to full power with no effect on the stranded vessel. The Susan Hoey pulled the barge free and was proceeding down river with it. The Illinois left the scene to fuel and pick up engine oil for her fleet mate the Montana. The Illinois will also retrieve another barge.
The water level was plus 8 inches above chart datum, this is down from plus 15 inches this morning. A Southerly wind has been gradually increasing as the next storm system moves in tonight through tomorrow. This new storm system is not as powerful as the last system that caused the grounding, but it will be a nuisance to contend with by the tug crews.
2:00 p.m. update
The barge 717 with a holding capacity of 300 tons is currently alongside the Nanticoke, brought there by the Gaelic tug Susan Hoey. The Nanticoke is transfering a portion of its cargo of soy beans to the barge using its self-unloading gear. The cargo transfer will take approximately thirty minutes.
Following the cargo transfer the tugs will once again work to free the ship.
A second barge is continuing through a preparation process and should the tug effort not produce results the second barge will be brought to the vessel.
Once the Nanticoke is freed the United States Coast Guard will conduct an on-site inspection following which the ship will proceed with a tug escort to the Toldeo World Industries dock for a further Coast Guard inspection and survey.
Once the ship is determined fit she will continue her voyage to Quebec.
Safety Note: The Coast Guard has asked the local community to exercise extreme caution when in the vicinity of the ship and railroad bridge. They have established a safety zone between Anthony Wayne and the Interstate 75 bridges. Local police have been called to the scene to control traffic on Miami Street and the shoreline adjacent to the Norfolk Southern South Railroad Bridge.
Equipment on scene with the Nanticoke:
Great Lakes Tugs -
Montana 1200 Horsepower
Illinois 1200 Horsepower
Louisiana 1200 Horsepower
Triton 4000 Horsepower
Suzanne 1200 Horsepower
Roger Stahl 3000 Horsepower
Barge 717 300 ton holding capacity
1:00 p.m. update
Thursday afternoon the Nanticoke remains sideways in the Maumee River ship channel in Toledo. By midnight on Thursday, a total of six tugboats were brought in to try to move the Nanticoke. They were not successful. Crews on scene are waiting for two barges to be brought in to lighten the Nanticoke's load of soybeans. The barges will be loaded and moved down river to off load the cargo. How many trips will be needed to free the Nanticoke remains to be seen. Once enough cargo has been off loaded they expect to move the ship with tugboats.
The water level had risen Thursday morning to plus 15-inches above chart datum.
Check back through out the day for updates
The Nanticoke was caught Wednesday morning by a combination of current, wind and low water levels while departing Anderson's "K" elevator in Toledo and became sideways to the river channel despite the best efforts of her crew.
At the time one tug was standing by the vessel and a second tug responded immediately to the Captain's request. Thursday morning it was still blocking the channel, with both anchors down. The Coast Guard reports the ship is not aground, just sideways in the channel. The 730-foot ship fills most of the river that is about 800-feet wide at this spot. Loaded to a 24-foot draft, the Nanticoke is effectively a dam in the river.
The Coast Guard reported current speed readings of between 8 and 10 knots at the railroad bridge, more than triple the normal river speed. "Two inches of rain causes the river to move a lot quicker than it usually does," said CWO Rick Minnich, a spokesman for the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Office in Toledo.
The Nanticoke's stern was near the east bank of the river and her bow was near the Anderson's grain dock. She had apparently dropped her stern anchor in an attempt to stop swinging, it was lying close to shore approximately 30 feet upriver.
The Great lakes Towing tugs Illinois and Louisiana were first on scene to help the Nanticoke. The Gaelic tug Susan Hoey joined the effort later that morning followed by the Montana shortly after noon. With four tugs pushing they were unable to move the Nanticoke due to the strong current and low water levels.
Wednesday afternoon the tug Louisiana moved around the bow of the Nanticoke to the south side of the river to a position where it could pull on the vessel. This move was made all the more dangerous because the raging current of the river was now forced into a 50-foot opening between the bow of the Nanticoke and the shore. After securing a line, the Louisiana in concert with the other tugs tried to free the Nanticoke with no effect on the stranded vessel.
All tugs remained at station-keeping power in an effort to keep the CSL vessel from moving further down river and into the railroad bridge. Shortly after 8:00 p.m. Gaelic's big 3,000 horsepower tug Roger Stahl arrived from Detroit. The Stahl moved into position near the stern of the Nanticoke and began working with the other tugs. The combined horsepower of the tugs on scene now topped 10,000 but they were still unable to move the Nanticoke.
The Montana moved to take up position on the South side of the Nanticoke where the tug Louisiana was pulling from. This move would take the tug through the raging current across the Nanticoke's bow in the choked-off channel. As soon as the bow of the Montana hit the current, she was spun sideways and tossed hard into the stone bridge abutment. The current carried her out of the channel and into the shallow waters north of the bridge. She was able to free herself but quickly went to moor downriver to check for damage. An inspection revealed no hull damage to the tug just a lost radar dome above the pilothouse where it scraped the underside of the railroad bridge’s deck. The Montana then returned to the Nanticoke effort.
During this time, the Louisiana, which was upriver was disabled by a large tree that became jammed between her propeller and her rudder. At the request of the Nanticoke's captain, all vessels went to station-keeping to wait for the arrival of Great Lakes Towing's big 4,000 horsepower tug Triton.
The Louisiana pulled along side the Nanticoke, attached a line from the Nanticoke to the tree, and the tree was then pulled loose with a winch.
Gale force winds on Tuesday and Wednesday led to a 41” drop in the water level adding to the normal current. The water level at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday was at minus 7 inches below datum. The winds were expected to die down last night, when that happens the water levels will begin to rise to normal levels.
Through out the day the Nanticoke's managers were in constant contact with Coast Guard and Port of Toledo officials. The Nanticoke stopped about 20 yards from the vital CSX Railroad Bridge. Train traffic was able to continue with no delays.
Once the Nanticoke is freed it will proceed to a near by dock to be inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard and then sail to its next port. The river bottom in this area is mud but there is concern that there may be damage to the rudder after being stuck in the mud. Local boaters say there is only 13 feet of water where her stern is, the Nanticoke is drawing about 24 feet.
There was one other ship in port that was blocked by the Nanticoke. Fleet mate Frontenac was tied up at the Cargill dock, loading grain. It will have to stay there until the channel is clear. The Coast Guard has closed the portion of the Maumee River affected by the Nanticoke and this will delay other vessels heading to load at Toledo's grain elevators.
This was the second such incident involving the Nanticoke in 2 1/2 years. On May 6, 1999, high winds were blamed for a nearly identical incident at the same location. The bridge is notorious among Great Lakes mariners as a difficult bridge to navigate because of its narrow passageway. The bridge is just downstream from a sharp bend in the Maumee that creates extremely tricky river currents. Eight times between 1986 and 2000 ships have struck the bridge, closing it for as long as 24 hours.
Nanticoke blocking the Maumee very near the Norfolk & Southern upriver bridge at Toledo. Pat Pavlat
Closeup of the Louisiana at work. Pat Pavlat
The first tugs on scene Wednesday morning. Bob Densic
Tug Montana arrives. Bob Densic
Tugs Susan Hoey, Illinois and Montana push against the strong current. Pat Pavlat
Closeup of the tugs at work. Pat Pavlat
Another view. Pat Pavlat
Close up. Bob Densic
Another view showing proximity to the N. & S. bridge pier. Pat Pavlat
Stern anchor deployed, the Nanticoke is very close to the shore. Pat Pavlat
Smoke from the tugs drifts past the Nanticoke's stern. Bob Densic
Stern is very close to shore. Bob Densic
Close up of the rudder post. Bob Densic
Crewman aboard the Nanticoke observes the work. Pat Pavlat
Fontenac loading upstream. Pat Pavlat
Tug Triton departs Cleveland for Toledo. TZ
Stern view. TZ
Video clip of the tugs working. Bob Densic
Video showing the swift current passing her stern. Bob Densic
Chart of the area.
Video of the incident from WTOL-TV. Updated
Live Web Cam image from WTOL-TV. Click on Carpenters' Cam
Reported by: Alan Baker, WTOL-TV, Nathan Boyle, Bob Densic, Jim Hoffman, Rex Cassidy, Dave Wobser and Canada Steamship Lines