Lightering operations have been planned for the Great Lakes freighter hard aground on a reef in Lake Superior, but it’s likely to be several more days before the vessel can be freed.
The 833-foot, U.S.-flagged Roger Blough was damage when it aground last Friday afternoon on Gros Cap Reef in Whitefish Bay near the start of the St. Marys River. So far no pollution has been reported, but as a precaution boom has been placed around the stern of the vessel and the Canadian Coast Guard has readied a large inventory of pollution control equipment in nearby in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
The U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday that plans to safely free the vessel were progressing but had to be revised to reflect conditions of the vessel after an underwater survey by salvage divers from DonJon-Smit.
The Coast Guard reported that there have been no changes in the rate of flooding and the crew remains in good condition. No update on the extent of damage to the vessel.
Lightering of the vessel’s iron ore cargo has been scheduled to begin by Friday with the MV Philip R. Clarke acting as the receiving vessel. The operation will be overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who will also ensure the Birch Point Range channel is safe for navigation after the Blough is removed from the grounding site.
A Coast Guard Auxiliary overflight was once again conducted on Wednesday afternoon and reported no pollution.
The incident is under investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard with the assistance of the National Transportation Safety Board.